A U.S. Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III airlifter from Travis Air Force Base arrived at Mexico City International Airport in support of earthquake relief efforts on Sept. 21.
The crew delivered 67 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) elite disaster team members and five canines, along with equipment and medical supplies.
“The men and women of the [urban search and rescue team] needed to get to Mexico to support the search and rescue operations after the earthquake,” said Capt. Kyle Brackett, 21st Airlift Squadron. “Helping our allies when they are in need is one of the most important things we do as a nation.”
All USAID disaster team members are also part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) urban search and rescue team and put past training and real-world experiences to use for this mission.
“Several members of the team have traveled to other countries to conduct search and rescue operations during past disasters including in Haiti, China, Nepal and Chile,” said Capt. Whit Gremillion, 21st AS aircraft commander. “They had flown with the Air Force before, and they were familiar with how we operate.”
At the request of the Mexican government, the team arrived in Mexico’s capital to support search and rescue efforts after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the country Sept. 19. The second earthquake in two weeks to strike Mexico collapsed buildings and damaged highways while killing hundreds of people.
The crew flew from Travis AFB to March Air Reserve Base Sept. 20, to load the aircraft. March ARB aerial porters worked through the night to load 76,000 pounds of cargo.
“The short notice tasking isn’t that out of the ordinary for C-17 crewmembers,” said Gremillion. “Our loadmaster had to deal with a non-standard cargo load and unloading in an unfamiliar location and did an outstanding job. The quicker the USAR team was able to get to Mexico, the quicker they could start to assist in [search and rescue] operations.”
After completing the mission to Mexico City, the C-17 crew left Sept. 22, for St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to deliver 114,000 pounds of hurricane relief supplies.
The teams will search buildings side-by-side with Mexican USAR teams to assess for earthquake damage.
Credit: Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs