MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Within the last few months the United States and its territories have been ravagged by three hurricanes, leaving many displaced and in need of aid. Starting with Hurricane Harvey, then Irma and now Maria, the Air Force Reserve Command continues to respond with supplies, aid and evacuation missions.
On Sept. 24, a team of Citizen Airmen from the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida, along with Airmen from the 16th Airlift Squadron, Charleston, South Carolina, evacuated 63 U.S. Virgin Islands inhabitants that were affected by Hurricane Maria.
“I’ve lost everything, my house, my furniture, my family photos. All I have left are these clothes I have on and what’s in my suitcase, said Jane Guirty, a resident of St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. “I am grateful for the evacuation and the help, but I don’t know what I’m going to do in the future, I am… I don’t know, I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The C-17, call sign Evac-99208 and piloted by active duty aircrew, departed Charleston AFB, South Carolina, early Sept. 24 to pick up Citizen Airman from the 45 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, MacDill AFB, Florida. After 45 AES medical professionals configured the C-17 to accommodate the medical needs of the evacuees, Evac-99208 departed MacDill AFB and headed to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to pick up Hurricane Maria victims. Once loaded, the evacuees were transported to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, for further treatment.
As of 24 Sept., in support of Hurricane Harvey, Air Mobility Command has flown 156 flights, delivered 2.7 million pounds of supplies, offloaded 457,000 pounds of fuel, and transported 1,213 passengers.
For Hurricane Irma, AMC has flown 485 flights, delivered 5.4 million pounds of supplies and transported 2,380 passengers.
For Hurricane Maria, AMC has flown 116 flights, delivered 1.3 million pounds of equipment and supplies. During all this activity, AMC deployed a Contingency Response Group to the Caribbean to reestablish supply lines, communication networks, and reopened the airports to enable the delivery of vital supplies.
"Mobility Airmen are delivering relief and providing critical care to those in need,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command. “Selfless service and a strong determination to help others is what defines our Airmen and Air Force."
Medical technicians and nurses onboard Evac-99208 train for, and primarily perform aeromedical evacuation missions out of combat zones, but their skills easily translate to humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
“Being from a small island myself, this really hits home for me, said Master Sgt. Maria Ayala, 45 AES Medical Technician. “This is my first humanitarian mission and I am truly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to help these people.”
The 45 AES is assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, the Air Force Reserve wing at MacDill Air Force Base. Over 90 percent of the Air Force’s aeromedical evacuation capably resides in the Air Reserve Component, allowing Airmen to bring experience from their civilian jobs to provide medical care for military and civilian personnel.