TOP STORY >> Relief pours into LRAFB
Leader staff writer
On the tarmac at Little Rock Air Force Base, a C-130 from Egypt sits side-by-side with an Israeli El Al 747, both having discharged emergency hurricane relief aid headed to Louisiana and Mississippi, part of a virtual United Nations of air transports.
By Friday, 24 foreign relief flights had landed at the base, designated as the hub for international relief, according to Lt. Jon Quinlan, a base spokesman. He said another eight inbound flights were scheduled.
The base had received 1,000 tons of relief supplies as of Friday morning, he said.
In Brussels, Belgium, Friday, member nations voted to use NATO ships and aircraft to hurry aid to the hurricane victims, according to published reports.
Using converted passenger aircraft, this will be the first time the new NATO Response Force has been used for a humanitarian mission.
Other countries sending emergency relief to Little Rock Air Force Base most recently included China, Russia, Den-mark, India, Thailand and Tunisia.
Meanwhile, the base’s C-130s have flown 30 missions in Operation Katrina, including the delivery of supplies and Guardsmen and transport of 206 evacuees, according to Quinlan.
The 314th Airlift Wing has 38 airmen deployed into the area, he said.
“The Air Force is happy to take this cargo on and participate in support of Operation Katrina,” said Quinlan. “This is a testament of the importance of the base.”
A 747 with 100 tons of goods from China arrived Wednesday and included bedding, clothes, tents and generators.
“This was a chance to show our sympathy and support and to show that we’re standing with Americans,” China Consul General Hu Yeshun said.
The location of Little Rock Air Force Base and its airlift experience make receiving the international aid missions possible, Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Reheiser said during his final week as 314 Airlift Wing commander.
“We have a great location plus we have the infrastructure here at Little Rock Air Force Base,” Reheiser said.
“We have a huge ramp and we have people who are trained to off load planes. Our airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base continuously train to move people and supplies. This life-saving effort puts our training into action by helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“Our airmen have played a vital role in this process and are working hard to provide relief to our Southern neighbors.”