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139th supports earthquake relief efforts

139th Airlift Wing, Mo. Air National Guard, aircrew members prepare their C-130 for departure from Homestead Air National Guard base, Florida, for relief efforts in Haiti on February 6th, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Bond/Released)

139th Airlift Wing, Mo. Air National Guard, aircrew members prepare their C-130 for departure from Homestead Air National Guard base, Florida, for relief efforts in Haiti on February 6th, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Bond/Released)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Twelve members of the 139th Airlift Wing are home after assisting with relief efforts in Haiti.

However, more 139th members remain and some have even been sent to Chile to fly supply missions to that earthquake-ravaged country.

The initial Haiti crew members made two trips into Haiti, the country that was devastated by an earthquake in January. The first time, they landed in a C-130 aircraft in Haiti on Feb. 6. There, they dropped off maintenance supplies and a crew that was picked up from Little Rock, Ark. Senior Master Sgt. Wayne Ward said they were only on ground in Haiti for 45 minutes, but it was an important mission.

"If you have that many C-130 planes coming in and out, you need to have the equipment to fix them and get them out of there," said Ward, who was the load master for the crew.
After flying into Fort Hood, Texas, to pick up more supplies and a small medical team, the crew was back in Haiti on Feb. 8.

"We landed both times in the middle of the night so we really couldn't see the devastation," said Ward. "It was our job to just get in there, support the missions going on and help that medical supply team get on ground."

Ward said the crew completed both missions in eight days. They landed back in St. Joseph on Feb. 11. That made for some exhausted crew members when they returned home.

"It was tiring," said Ward. "It was long days and long nights with a lot of flying. We were on call at all times. This mission was nothing like (hurricane) Katrina, but it was still important. We contributed a lot of supplies and some important people."

Throughout late February and well into March, wing members and aircraft have continued to fly missions into Haiti. But with the earthquake in Chile struck, two Missouri Guard aircrews and maintenance in Haiti joined one Air Force Reserve unit from Niagra, N.Y., and its two aircraft to fly missions out of the capital of Santiago to affected area.

Lt. Col. Ken McDaniel, director of operations for the 180th Airlift Squadron, served as the Mission Commander of the Chile effort. Meanwhile, members of both units stayed behind and continued to fly missions into Haiti from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
More 139th AW members relieved those teams in mid-March.

-- Maj. Brian Bowman contributing