JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Members of the 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland supported the Department of Defense- led Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE mission to halt the spread of the Ebola virus throughout Africa by providing the safe transport of more than 166,490 pounds of medical equipment to Liberia Sept. 25.
Supporting an Air Force Medical Operations Agency tasking from the U.S. Africa Command to deploy a 25-bed expeditionary medical support field hospital to Liberia, the 502nd LRS went into overdrive to complete its mission, said 1st Lt. Kimberly Robinson, 502nd LRS Deployment & Distribution flight commander.
"Deploying 38 pallets, over 166,490 pounds of equipment and supplies, in a compressed time frame is no small feat, but the LRS went to work," the flight commander said. "The Deployment Control Center was stood up and run by the LRS' outstanding logistic planners and the process began."
The deployment control center is an entity of the LRS that is always on standby for short notice deployment taskings to ensure either personnel or cargo can get to a location in a short amount of time. At least four logistics career fields are normally involved.
Working directly with AFMOA, a critical JBSA mission partner, LRS traffic managers and vehicle operators began transporting and assisting with preparing the cargo to ensure a smooth delivery to the Liberian port. While a mission of this magnitude can easily take weeks or months of coordination, the units provided the speedy transfer within five days of notification.
"We were told on Monday morning it's a go and had to meet a Friday deadline," said Master Sgt. Robert Lealiiee, AFMOA superintendent of medical war reserve material industrial operations and one of the driving forces behind the mission. "The contractors and the military members here stayed approximately 29 hours (beyond regular duty hours) to make sure (the cargo) was ready to go by Friday."
"The cooperation between AFMOA and the 502nd LRS was outstanding," said Robinson. "Also, the coordination of the different career fields within the LRS allowed this movement to get out quickly and seamlessly. This is what the deployment and distribution Flight was made for."
Air transporters from the 502nd LRS took on the arduous task of planning the safe and expedient loading of the cargo into three C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, Robinson added, as sequencing the pallets in preparation to certify proper weight balance is no easy feat.
Included in the haul were tents, medical supplies, generators, refrigeration systems and other crucial items for a hospital in Liberia that is supported by medical personnel from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Although the personnel will not be directly involved with patient care, they will deliver health care provider training and supply engineers to construct the Ebola Treatment Units. The 83 short-ton of supplies delivered will directly support the treatment of patients and attempt to effectively halt the spread of the Ebola virus.
"Our people spent many long hours planning for these missions, and the actions we have taken will directly contribute to stopping the spread of this disease and saving countless lives," said Lt. Col. Tammy McElhaney, 502nd LRS commander. "I am truly proud of our LRS team as we continue to prove that we can excel in providing the best support to JBSA, the Air Force, and our nation."