I embedded with the 22nd Airlift Squadron out of Travis Air Force Base on Sept. 23 for their mission to deliver rescue crews and supplies to Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc last week, leaving many on the island without food, water and electricity.
The 22nd operates the C-5 Galaxy, the military’s largest aircraft and the perfect machine to transport 100,000 pounds of cargo and 81 California FEMA task force members to the desolated U.S. territory.
Our initial mission was to fly from Travis Air Force Base with California Task Force Team 7 -- which is comprised of Sacramento firefighters, primarily their search and rescue teams -- to March Air Reserve Base, near Riverside, California, and pick up two more task force teams, comprised of Riverside County and Los Angeles County firefighters.
From there, we continued on to Puerto Rico, and this would all take about 22 hours in total. These airmen and women that I was flying with had to stay up for most of that time carrying out this mission.
“We all want to help on the humanitarian side," said Greg Powell, Leader, Task Force 7. "I mean, we’re all predominately firefighters from different agencies that make up this team, and we all have the same goal, which is to help out our common man. And that’s truly what it means for us, is that we’re helping and that’s what’s most important to all of us on this team, and all the other teams that are here currently at this time.”
After unloading our cargo and task force team members in San Juan, our orders were to fly to Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. Now, we're going to get a few more hours rest here before heading out early Tuesday morning to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, where we're going to meet up with the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division.
We're going to be taking some of those soldiers and their helicopters to Puerto Rico, where they're going to assist in Hurricane Maria relief efforts on the island.