165th Airlift Wing keeps disaster relief moving

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base prepare 38,000 pounds of meals-ready-to-eat, Sept. 26, 2017, to send as air cargo to disaster areas from Hurricanes Maria and Irma at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base were operating around the clock this week to send disaster relief to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The group of more than 16 Airmen began 12-hour shifts for handling air cargo out of Savannah shortly after the islands’ devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria became known.

By the looks of things here, the busy operations seemed a good sign that the military did not forget those in dire need.

“Every one of these guys is a traditional guardsman, and I just called them, and they said, ‘Yeah, I’ll help out,'” said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Weaver, air cargo superintendent. “They weren’t tasked, they just volunteered.”

The air terminal operations center is coordinating with incoming and outgoing Air National Guard units from across the nation. More help is on the way to handle the massive flow of water, MREs, equipment, and other material requested. Air-cargo specialists from the 167th Airlift Wing in West Virginia were also activated and will arrive here soon to set up the second cell.

Forklifts took 38 pallets, totaling 38,000 pounds of meals-ready-to-eat off of a flatbed trailer just this morning. They carried them into the staging hanger.  As soon as that trailer offloaded, another truckload of cargo arrived.

“It’s quite the experience,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Duvverly, an air transportation specialist, who was hustling to direct forklifts to square metal skids. He wrapped cargo with sheets of plastic and then secured it with netted straps.

They explained that the skids get weighed, recorded and prepositioned near the flight line. Forklifts wheel the skids out to awaiting aircrew on Air National Guard aircraft.

“It’s a good feeling know that I can help send some support down there, especially when they have no power,” said Duvverly.

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