May 7, 2014 (by MSgt. Cohen Young) - A team of coalition forces to include an Italian C-130 and a C-130J-30 assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Airfield assisted the Afghan government with humanitarian efforts this week.
Capt. Gregory Caylor, a pilot assigned to the 774th EAS, reviews his flight plan and prepares for pre-checks while at Bagram Air Field on May 5, 2014. Caylor and his crew flew to Kabul IAP to pick-up personnel and supplies as part of a coalition forces collective that supported the Afghan government with humanitarian relief after a mudslide flowed through a village in the Badakhshan province. [USAF photo by MSgt. Cohen A. Young]
Crews assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron made three trips between May 4-5 to Fayzabad Airport, Afghanistan, where they delivered approximately 140 personnel and 15.2 tons of supplies.
A mudslide flowed through a village in the Badakhshan province May 2 creating a need for humanitarian aid in the remote area. Coalition personnel from Bagram were ready assist.
“We knew they were getting ready to send humanitarian relief effort that way,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mitchell Spillers, the 774th EAS director of operations and a native of Russellville, Alabama. “We started prepping and looking at the airfield because we hadn’t been in that area before as a unit.
The airfield provided some challenges due to its location and weather.
“It was a remote location in the northeastern part of Afghanistan and very mountainous,” said Spillers. “It was a little bit of concern for terrain and weather and getting our crew in and out of there safely.”
The crew picked up personnel and supplies at Kabul International Airport, then maneuvered through the mountains and landed at Fayzabad Airport, where they dropped off their cargo.
Although the crew dealt with thunderstorms, icing, a bird strike and a narrow landing zone, they were able to complete their task due to their training.
“The flight in there was awesome with the canyon leading us right to the runway,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Gregory Caylor, a native of Dayton, Ohio and currently deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. “We train on a lot of smaller runways, so it honestly didn’t feel too bad. Length is what we usually worry about; it was a little narrow, but we had plenty of runway.”
One thing the crew did have to worry about was the fact that there was not an American security team in place in that area, so the crew was supported by two Fly Away Security Team members assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadrons and six U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Macon, Georgia.
The joint team provided security for the travelers while the crew unloaded the personnel and supplies.
“It’s pretty cool working with the Air Force,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Mode, a native of Denton, Texas. “They’re professional and we’re professional; there’s a task or job to get done and we get it done together.”
“Working with the Army, our brothers in service is always a good thing,” said Senior Airman Shawn Donovan, currently assigned to 455th EBDS/ FAST and a native of Swansboro, N.C.
All of the members that flew to Fayzabad Airport were glad to help and felt the mission mattered.
“When we finally get to impact people with a humanitarian act, it brings a purpose to us being here,” added Caylor. “We feel like we’re doing something positive.”
“It makes us proud when they go and execute a mission like this in a challenging environment,” added Spillers. “We’re really happy to help and happy we’re happy we’re here to do so.