By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson, Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Less than a week after reviving a “rundown, abandoned airfield” in Barahona, Dominican Republic, the Kentucky National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group (CRG) has already helped to ease the flow of much needed medical supplies, food and water to neighboring Haiti who suffered a horrendous earthquake two weeks ago.
During an interview Tuesday, Jan. 26 on DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, a public affairs officer with the Kentucky National Guard discussed what he describes as “One heckuva very fulfilling operation.”
So far, approximately 52 aircraft, mainly the U.S. Air Force’s C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs, have brought in close to 576 tons of water, food and medical provisions, to include live donor organs and plasma, which are then trucked 60 miles east to the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince and other neighboring communities.
Known as the “airbase in a box,” Kentucky’s 123rd CRG members represent a broad spectrum of specialties, including airfield security, ramp and cargo operations, and command and control. Many of the Airmen already have operational experiences from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as from stateside operations in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and assisting those who suffered from Kentucky’s deep freeze last February, 2009.
The team of about 60 deployed to the Dominican also includes about 15-20 active duty members who are providing security forces, and administrative needs to include a small contracting office that prepares documentation to secure flatbed trucks to get the needed supplies across the boarder.
The Kentucky Guard is expected to continue supporting Operation Unified Response from the Barahona airfield for 60 to 120 days, depending on what the mission dictates, said Colonel Hilbrecht.
For more information on what the National Guard is doing to support “Operation Unified Response” go to: www.ng.mil/features/haiti.
Photo: Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load gear for a deployment from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 21, 2010, in preparation for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit on Jan. 22, 2010, to establish an air cargo hub responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)