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Home : News
NEWS | Nov. 26, 2013

Alaska Guard Airmen aid in Philippines relief operation

By Lt. Bernie Kale Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska - Nine Alaska Air National Guard members from the 176th Wing’s 249th Airlift Squadron are currently deployed in support of Operation Damayan, the relief effort in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the island country.

Pacific Air Forces placed active-duty Airmen and Alaska Air Guard members from the Alaskan based C-17 Globemaster squadrons on alert shortly after the initial disaster reports were received.

"We departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Nov. 13th and so far every day has been something new," said Master Sgt. Brian Johnson, a C-17 loadmaster with Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron. "We ended up loading up two 42,000 pound vehicles and a pallet of water which we delivered to the city of Tagloban, capital of the Philippines."

Johnson deployed on the first aircraft from JBER that was comprised of active duty and Guard members and is still deployed in support of disaster relief. He said that while communication hasn’t been ideal, they are making a difference with the people who need it the most.

Of the more than 1,000 refugees airlifted by his unit, one woman sticks out.

"On one trip to the capital, we had to leave quickly because we had a pregnant woman who was 11 days overdue and had begun bleeding," Johnson said. "We quickly transported the refugees to Kadena Air Base, Japan, where the pregnant woman was met with medical professionals."

There are currently three C-17s from JBER with a combination of Active Duty and Alaska Air Guardsmen operating jointly. The first aircraft is expected to return to Alaska Saturday morning while the two remaining aircraft and crews are deployed to Kadena, flying daily missions in support of the Philippines disaster relief.