by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
11/17/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen
from Yokota Air Base, Japan, shifted gears from exercise to real-world
humanitarian relief operations as they arrived at Clark Air Base,
Republic of the Philippines, to provide tactical airlift support for
Operation Damayan, Nov. 16, 2013.
The team of approximately 80 Airmen and three C-130 Hercules were
returning to Japan from Exercise Cope South, a Humanitarian Assistance
and Disaster Relief exercise in Bangladesh, when new orders arrived to
join the joint, multinational effort to assist the Philippine
government's response to Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
"This is exactly the kind off mission we train for," said Lt. Col. Jeff
Menasco, 36th Airlift Squadron commander. "We can provide versatile
humanitarian airlift operations in some of the most austere locations
within hours of a mission tasking."
The team is joined by two more Yokota C-130s as well as additional
aircrews and support personnel who will augment the airlift mission. In
total, five C-130s and more than 90 Yokota personnel will join efforts
at Clark, supported by Airmen operating back in Japan.
Yokota Airmen regularly train in local and regional exercises designed
to developed and improve their airlift expertise to better respond to
According to the crews joining Operation Damayan, all the rehearsals
have led up to this moment and they are eager to put their skills to
"We're ready go out there and do our job and help people in need," said
1st Lt. Jon Van Pinxteren, 36th Airlift Squadron navigator. "All the
training we've received so far has been for this purpose. It's pretty
exciting to say this is what I do."
The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the
airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt
strips and is the prime transport for airdropping supplies in remote
"In times of crisis, the C-130 have become an icon of hope to those in
need," Menasco said. "No matter what the mission, we deliver in the
toughest conditions. We are ready to do whatever we can to help the
people of the Philippines as they recover from this disaster."