Tag Archives: Haiti

Report from an Airman in Haiti

Chief Master Sergeant Tyler Foster is the Air Force Special Operations CommandPublic Affairs deployed chief of operations at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti.  He and his team are supporting U.S. Southern Command relief efforts in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the island nation.

100115-F-1443G-011America’s Airmen hit the ground running here early this week as part of the U.S. Southern Command contingent associated with earthquake relief operations.

Combat Control Teams from Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., immediately established control of the airspace and have facilitated more than 125 landings here. Today Haitian air controllers returned to duty, providing long range control while the CCTs prioritized incoming aircraft, directed landings and take offs while balancing confined parking ramp space.

Special Operations weathermen kept incoming and outgoing aircrews apprised of real-time weather data enabling safe and smooth operations at this austere location.

Air Force pararescue jumpers waded into the fray of destruction, assisting civilian rescue agencies operating within the devastated capital. More than 20 people who were still alive were reported to have been removed from the rubble.

100115-F-9712-029Air Force security forces teamed with Navy relief flights to provide security at multiple humanitarian supply landing zones. Today’s flights marked a significant milestone as incoming supplies reached the many victims in need of life-sustaining support. 

Through it all, Air Force medium and heavy lift cargo aircrews pushed their equipment and selves to the limit to maximize inbound supplies and equipment while evacuating American victims of the 7.4 earthquake that struck here January 12.

Support personnel continue to build the base of operations in order to sustain the forces executing and facilitating this immense humanitarian relief effort. Over the last five years, USSOUTHCOM has charted 14 successful relief operations, including Haiti in September 2008.

Cutline for top right photo:  Staff Sgt. Caleb Barmody helps to unload supplies from a Charleston C-17 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 15, 2010. Air Mobility Command is participating in a swift and coordinated relief effort to save lives and alleviate human suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake. Sergeant Barmody is an air transportation journeyman with the 817th Global Mobility Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katie Gieratz)

Cutline for bottom left photo:  U.S. citizens evacuate from Toussaint Louveture International Airport, Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 15, 2010. The evacuees were flown out on a C-17 Globemaster III from Dover Air Force Base, Del. Haiti was struck by an earthquake that leveled much of the countries infrastructure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Images of Haiti earthquake relief effort

Below are some photos from our Airmen who have deployed to assist in the humanitarian effort in Haiti. This is just a small sampling. Be sure to check out the Air Force Flickr page for more photos and many more to come. Want even more photos? Visit Defense Imagery.


U.S.Air Force personnel from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., off load cargo from a Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., C-17 Globemaster III, Jan. 15, 2010, at the Port-au-Princce airport in support relief efforts to Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts) (Released)


Tents on the edge of the runway at the Port-au-Prince airport, Haiti, provide shelter to U.S. military personnel participating in the relief effort in Haiti after a devastating earthquake, Jan. 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts) (Released)


An aerial view of the damaged Presidential Palace in Haiti from a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft Jan. 14. Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situation awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. (Release by U.S. Southern Command)

Air Force’s Global Hawk providing aerial images of Haiti

Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff is assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. This blog is the result of a Department of Defense Blogger’s Roundtable held Jan. 15 and discussed one aspect of Air Force Humanitarian Relief to Haiti.

WASHINGTON – An Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk is providing imagery to determine the extent of damage to earthquake-stricken Haiti and usability of its infrastructure, said the vice commander of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.

Global Hawk aerial view of Haiti devastation

“A lot of images of destroyed buildings,” said Col. Bradley G. Butz, 480th ISR vice commander. They are looking at images of airports to find airfields to land aircraft. The image quality and clarity is good enough whether or not an airfield can accept aircraft, the colonel added.

“We’ve got pretty good coverage of the entire country of Haiti,” Colonel Butz said.

The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS with an integrated sensor suite that provides worldwide ISR capability.

The 480th ISR, based at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is providing its images to U.S. Southern Command officials for use by whomever needs the images, Colonel Butz said. The objective is mass distribution to people and organizations that need the images to support relief and recovery operations, he added.

These images can help determine the level of destruction since aerial images of Haiti exist from June 2009. Comparing the June 2009 and the January 2010 can give an indication of the extent of the disaster. Without context “we just don’t know the impact,” the colonel said.

In addition, the Global Hawk provides assistance to soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who are deploying to Haiti. The Global Hawk is providing images of where the Soldiers are deploying to help them prepare for their mission, Colonel Butz said.

The Global Hawk flew 14 hours Jan. 14, providing between 400-700 images, the colonel said. It is flying daily out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The colonel said the Global Hawk will continue providing Haitian overflight support as long as the president requests.

This is the first use of the Global Hawk in a disaster relief mission in the Caribbean, according to the colonel.

Photo cutline: An aerial view of the damaged National Cathedral in Haiti by a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system Jan. 14. Aerial images are providing U.S. military planners valuable situation awareness as they coordinate U.S. military support to the Haiti relief effort. (Release by U.S. Southern Command)

Air Force’s management of Haiti airport essential to humanitarian operations

by Paul F. Bove, Air Force Public Affairs Agency

On Thursday, Jan. 14, U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Daniels, director of operations for the 720th Operations Support Squadron and Lt. Col. Brett J. Nelson, Commander of the 23d Special Tactics Squadron (23 STS), 720th Special Tactics Group (720 STG), Hurlburt Field, Fla., participated in the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable (listen here). They were online to discuss the U.S. Air Force’s role in opening the Port au Prince airport, the only airstrip in Haiti, after its tower collapsed during the recent earthquake. The 720th is also playing an integral part in supporting overall humanitarian operations. They are accomplishing this with a triple capability approach that includes 1) airfield, 2) medical, and 3) weather.

HurlburtThe STS and STG teams, which fall under Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), arrived around 8:00PM EST on January 13 and immediately established 24-hour control of the damaged airport so that planes could continue to fly in and out. This was no small task because the airport had been in a state of disarray with flight coming and going with little planning. Security forces also helped secure the airport perimeter and there have been no breaches thus far.

LtCol Nelson clarified that recent reports of the airport being closed are not true. “We have experienced a significant slowdown primarily due to the support capacity in Port au Prince. Specifially, the ability to process aircraft and the cargo they’re bringing in. There are only two fuel trucks and two towbars available at Port au Prince airport,” said LtCol Nelson. Therefore, if a plane needs to be moved around or fueled, processing takes much longer. LtCol Nelson stated that at one point there were 44 aircraft on the ground but the air staff continued to make progress in getting them in and out of the airport. Reports of the airport needing to be closed due to darkness are also untrue because the lighting is working and portable lights were also brought along.

LtCol Nelson verified that the pararescumen conducted “a number of collapsed structure rescues in coordination with the U.S. Embassy and are counting seven specific rescues through that process.” The team will continue to work on prioritization with the U.S. Embassy so as to be placed in the most urgent areas first. hurl2

Prioritization is also necessary to the ability to process cargo and the 720th  is working with the FAA to establish priorities so that the most urgent capabilities and supplies are brought into Port au Prince at the right time.

At this point, the 23d STS and and 720 STG have successfully taken control of the Port au Prince airport and are now focusing on marshaling and parking airplanes, maximizing how many can be on the airstrip at one time, and making sure that planes can land and take off. The successful management of the airport will be necessary for humanitarian aid as planes will need to fly in and out to bring supplies and fly out the injured. The 621st Contingency Response Wing from McGuire AFB deployed late this afternoon to Haiti to expand and oversee the airport ramp capabilities at Port au Prince and provide support to the 23 STS and 720 STG.

For more information about the Air Force’s participation in the Haiti Earthquake relief effort, visit http://www.af.mil/humanitarianrelieftohaiti/index.asp.  For a compilation of official U.S. Government Twitter accounts following Haiti relief, click here.

Photo Credits (top to bottom):

Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen load onto an MC-130H Combat Talon II before departing for Haiti, Jan. 13, 2010.  These Airmen will participate in the U.S. humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission in Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Loken/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Chuck Massing, a C-130 loadmaster assigned to the 6th Special Operations Squadron Hurlburt Field, Fla., unloads gear to be loaded onto a C-130E before departing for Haiti, Jan. 13, 2010. Airmen assigned to the 1st SOW will be part of a U.S. humanitarian relief mission to the earthquake stricken country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jason Epley/Released)