CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Supplies were loaded onto a China-bound C-17 yesterday at Hickam Air Force Base in advance of a flight scheduled for this morning.
Hickam flying quake aid to China
Hickam Air Force Base personnel worked to ready tens of thousands of pounds of relief supplies -- including water and fuel containers, tools and 15,000 meals -- for a flight this morning to assist victims affected by the destructive earthquake in China.
A C-17 Globemaster III was to depart Hickam Air Force Base at 2:45 a.m. carrying about 90,135 pounds of supplies. The aircraft is expected to arrive at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 11 a.m. tomorrow . This is the first humanitarian flight from the United States to assist victims since the 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province on Monday.
"The U.S. is standing by for any other requests, and if those requests are made, they will be handled though the interagency process and then we will respond as accordingly," said Maj. Gen. Richard Perraut, vice commander of the 13th Air Force. "There are ongoing requests and discussions between our governments."
Another C-17 plane from the 3rd Wing in Alaska was to pick up supplies on Guam before heading to China. The aircraft was earlier sent to the Utapao Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand to help relief efforts in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Perraut noted that a couple of Hickam's C-130 planes are in Myanmar conducting daily missions.
The Department of Defense purchased $700,000 worth of relief supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist earthquake victims in China. Military officials obtained the supplies from two distribution sites in Hawaii and Guam.
Supplies aboard the C-17 from Hickam included 15,000 meals, 1,700 blankets, various types of fuel containers and lanterns, tarps, 320 tents, 3,800 containers of water and various tools to help with the recovery.
"This is a mission about people helping people, simply that. It's reaching out to them in their greatest time of need," said Col. Joe Kim, vice commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing.
Seven members of the 154th Wing and 15th Airlift Wing were assigned to the nonstop flight from Oahu to China. The 14-hour flight will include two midair refuelings.
The humanitarian mission team, made up of three pilots, two load masters and two crew chiefs, will be on the ground long enough to unload the supplies to make way for other relief planes, Kim said.