Thursday, January 28, 2010

Air Terminal at Gitmo Supports Haiti Relief Effort

A Boeing 747 contracted by the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command, lands at the Guantanamo Bay airfield with humanitarian supplies. The humanitarian supplies are part of Operation Unified Response, a joint operation providing humanitarian assistance following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bill Mesta/Released)

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Edward Flynn

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and Joint Task Force Guantanamo continue support of disaster relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12.

A joint logistics hub at the naval station and the air terminal has been established to coordinate and lead humanitarian relief efforts to the island.

Task Force 48 has been tasked to coordinate the deliver this aid to Haiti.

"The military personnel here are working non-stop, around-the-clock, coordinating the air and sea assets to deliver immediate, lifesaving supplies to Haiti," said Rear Adm. Patricia Wolfe, commander, Task Force 48.

Military and base personnel are working around-the-clock to coordinate transport of supplies to Haiti. This rapid lift of water, food and medical supplies, including blood donations, will help the devastated country.

"We are all here doing what we signed up for," said Lt. Kimberly Gentner, with Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14. Gentner praised those working at the air terminal for their hard work in ensuring heavy cargo, food, water and medical supplies are transported from the terminal to Haiti. From operations, flight control, humanitarian assistances providers, cargo handlers and logistics specialists, the team assembled at the air terminal requires a wide range of technical skills needed for mission success.

In any joint mission or task force, communication is paramount for success. "The level of cooperation we received from U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay is exceptional," said Lt. Devin Lewis, detachment maintenance officer of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40. "Although logistics is always a challenge, we work extremely hard knowing we are saving lives."

At the air terminal, the task of coordinating the personnel manifest is organized by Sailors from the naval station. Checking luggage, following U.S. travel guidelines and documenting personnel arriving and departing the island is necessary to ensure accountability and safety.

"The people of Haiti need our help and I'm glad to be part of this important mission," said Yeoman 2nd Class Robert Sanders, an arrival coordinator at the air terminal. Sanders credited his team with assisting more than 700 military personnel and civilians in arriving or departing the island since Jan. 21. "Every job is important and the ultimate goal is to ensure the supplies reach the people of Haiti."