September 29, 2017 (by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo) - The U.S. Air Force Reserve's 815th Airlift Squadron spent the last week supporting relief efforts to Caribbean Islands devastated by Hurricanes Maria and Irma this month.
The 815th AS crew, along with other Air Force and Air Force Reserve aircrews and medical personnel, have been staged at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, since Sept. 23.
The 815th Flying Jennies worked with aeromedical evacuation crews to transport injured personnel from St. Croix to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. Dobbins is serving as a federal coordination center for patient reception as part of the national disaster medical system, which coordinates patient movement following a natural disaster.
According to Capt. Michael Plash, 815th AS pilot and aircraft commander, the Reserve crew worked with the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill AFB, to transport patients from St. Croix. The Airmen of the 45th AES, who can operate on multiple aircraft such as C-130J s, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and KC-135 Stratotankers, provided in-flight medical care.
"Tactical airlift and AE crews primarily perform missions out of combat zones, however their skills easily translate to humanitarian and disaster relief operations," said, Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio, 815th AS commander. "Humanitarian efforts are an extremely important part of our three-part primary mission that also includes both peacetime and combat tactical airlift and airdrop."
Patients from St. Croix, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico are being transferred to four medical facilities in the Southeastern United States.
"It's rewarding to take part in these operations and to help the people of St. Croix, transporting them to the States to get them the medical care they need," said Plash. He added that it's a way of giving back to the community that frequently hosts 403rd Wing operations. St. Croix is a frequently used forwarding operating location for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunters who fly into storms to gather weather data to improve National Hurricane Center forecasts.