by Staff Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
11/5/2012 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- After
airlifting more than 20 electrical utility vehicles to the East Coast
Saturday to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, McChord Field Airmen
were back at it again Sunday, transporting much-needed relief back east.
Only this time, instead of utility vehicles, this cargo belonged to the
Army's 227th Preventative Medicine Medical Detachment from Joint Base
Tasked with testing the safety of drinking water, air, food and other
resources in the areas hit by the storm, the small preventative medicine
team deployed from JBLM to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on a
C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, operated by the 62nd Airlift Wing.
"Whenever there is a natural disaster of this scale, there is also a
breakdown in basic sanitation in the area," said Army Maj. Jason
Faulkenerry, 227th PMMD commander. "Working alongside the Food and Drug
Administration, we will help to ensure the safety of residents affected
by the storm as well as those helping with the cleanup efforts."
Along with the passengers, onboard the aircraft were enough vehicles and
equipment for the team to be mobile and self-sustained in the area for
up to a month.
For the C-17 crew transporting the equipment and passengers, this
mission was their third trip back and forth across the country,
transporting crews and cargo to the area in just five days.
"Emotionally and physically it can be draining," said 1st Lt. Daniel
Siemen, 8th Airlift Squadron pilot. "But knowing that the people and
equipment absolutely have to get where they're going, you have to press
on. You just have to make sure you are well rested."
When taking into consideration the gravity of the missions being flown, it's easy to look past the discomfort, he said.
"Being a part of this is awesome," said Siemen. "Obviously, the
situation back east is not ideal, but it is definitely great to be able
to help the people in need."
Before the mission's departure, a 4-hour maintenance delay meant the
crew had a decision to make as to whether they were going to postpone
the mission or continue with it. After a certain number of hours on
alert status, it is the up to the crew's discretion as to whether they
"We talked about it as a crew and decided that we were all well rested
and could safely push forward with the mission," said Senior Airman
Steven Varner, 8th AS loadmaster. "We are helping people who are in need
and they're in our own backyard. We really needed to get these guys out
there so they could get to work."
And that's just what they did. After a 5-hour flight to New Jersey and
once on the ground at McGuire Field, crews quickly unloaded the aircraft
of its cargo and passengers and the crew was back in the air just an
hour and 40 minutes later - heading home to start the process all over
again, if needed.
McChord Field Airmen will continue to remain on alert, waiting to answer
the call and jump into action whenever and wherever it is needed.
"We press forward because of the gravity of the situation on the East
Coast dictates we do," said Capt. Matt Battle, 8th AS pilot. "We're
happy to provide this assistance, knowing it's helping to ease the
discomfort of many of our neighbors back east."