Thursday, January 28, 2010

VRC-40: Supporting Operation Unified Response

Equipment and supplies are loaded onto a C-2A Greyhound assigned to the Rawhides of Fleet Logistical Support Squadron (VRC) 40 at the airfield at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. The Rawhides are transporting personnel to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to support disaster relief efforts following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bill Mesta/Released)

By Army Sgt. Michael Baltz, Joint Task Force Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Service members from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 arrived at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to help support Operation Unified Response after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12.

The squadron, based out of Norfolk, Va., has been providing critical logistical support by transporting more than 300 tons of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cargo to the people of Haiti.

"We feel like we are making a difference," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Zaniko, the operations officer for VRC-40. "In a routine six-month deployment, a squad like ours would normally transport about 500 tons of cargo. We have done more than half that in our first week."

The VRC-40's mission is to facilitate the movement of high priority cargo, mail and passengers to and from Atlantic fleet carriers. Additionally, they also train top-notch pilots, aircrew and maintainers. They are equipped with six C-2A Greyhounds, which are conducting three to four missions nightly while deployed to Guantanamo.

"We fly during the night to limit the air traffic during the day," Zaniko said. "This works out well because, when everyone wakes-up, they have their supplies, and we continue to move forward."

Greyhounds can carry up to 10,000 pounds of cargo, which could include personnel.

"We are currently flying cargo to Haiti and to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)," said Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Ingram. "We also fly doctors and search and rescue teams to help support the mission."

Ingram and naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Casey Marshall, have been on more than 15 logistical missions in just their first week.

"The most challenging part of the job is maintaining flexibility and being adaptable in every situation," Marshall said. "We have long days and long nights, but we do it with a smile on our face. Knowing that we are helping the people in Haiti, our sacrifices are minimal compared to theirs, and I enjoy having the ability to help them out."

"Everyone in our unit is working hard," Ingram chimed in. "The faster we get everything going, the faster we can help them."

"We are all excited to be here and to be able to help," Zaniko said. "I am very proud of everyone working so hard to accomplish the mission."