by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs
5/8/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICAHRDSON, Alaska -- Joint
Base Elmendorf Richardson sent the installation's first round of
humanitarian support to the people of Nepal affected by a recent 7.8
magnitude earthquake in the form of a C-17 Globemaster III and support
personnel May 1.
The aircraft, from the 517th Airlift Squadron, carried a K Loader and a
tire-changing kit, and first stopped in Guam to pick up a contingency
response group before continuing to Kathmandu, Nepal.
Additionally, a C-17 from the 517th AS participating in exercise
Balikatan in the Philippines began transferring Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom
helicopters to help provide airlift support. More support packages from
JBER are on standby to be sent as directed by the Department of State.
"The biggest priority is to get some command and control elements into
country," said Maj. Travis Kuenzi, 517th AS assistant director of
operations. "Also important is getting helicopters there for vertical
airlift due to the crowded airfields and rugged terrain."
Initially, the helicopters will be aiding in search and rescue, Kuenzi
said. They will be particularly useful as highways have been hard hit by
the earthquake and it is hard to get supplies to the smaller villages.
JBER's efforts will assist Joint Task Force 505, already in place in
Nepal. According to Air Force officials, the task force brings a variety
of capabilities that will help the government of Nepal recover from the
disaster as quickly as possible. The focus of support includes search
and rescue, airborne SAR, medium helicopter lift support, medium-heavy
tilt-rotor support, fixed-wing lift support, as well as medical and
"It's fairly typical from our perspective," Kuenzi said. "We're trained
to go anywhere in the world moving pretty much any kind of cargo you
would need. We do that every day. The difference here is the urgency of
JBER officials said JBER service members stand ready and willing to help
when called upon as the needs of the people of Nepal become clear and
relief efforts are coordinated.
JBER units (mission partners such as the 3rd Wing, 517th AS, U.S. Army
Alaska and Alaska Air National Guard) have a long history of support in
humanitarian and disaster relief operations, locally and in the far
corners of the globe. JBER pilots, crews, maintainers, logistics and
medical personnel train every day to be ready to support when called
One of the units ready to assist is the 673d Medical Group.
"We're prepared to support Nepal and its people in any way we can," said
Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Hoff, 673d Medical Support Squadron medical
logistics superintendent. "The medical logistics flight has a variety
of medical capabilities that can be deployed along with personnel
packages. We can take anything from a small deployable clinic that can
treat a certain amount of people for 30 days or we can send a critical
care team that allows for transport of critically injured personnel in
The 673d MDSS support elements are structured modularly, allowing them
to take equipment packages from one installation and pair it with
personnel packages from another installation.
"It gives flexibility and a large scope of expandability to whatever the
mission dictates," Hoff said. "There's an almost endless amount of
support we can give and my people are very proud and excited to help out
the people of Nepal."
The spirit of caring and support was a common theme for personnel involved in the initial support provided to Nepal.
"Even though Alaska is a large community, it's close-knit so it provides
some perspective when helping others out all the way across the world,"
said Staff Sgt. Alyse Denittis, 517th AS C-17 loadmaster. "Someone
doesn't have to be physically close to you for you to feel a desire to
reach out. It's very rewarding for me. Giving our help when needed,
that's what the U.S. Air Force does."