Wing continues hurricane relief support

  • Published
  • By By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle

The 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., continues to support the relief efforts following Hurricane Maria which devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands last month.

Eighteen airmen have deployed to three locations in response to the hurricane and aircrews have flown 24 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft sorties delivering 287.2 short tons of cargo and 114 passengers to the islands.

The 167th’s fuels flight issued nearly 474,000 gallons of jet fuel last month, due in part, to the hurricane relief missions flown from the wing.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Darlington, the wing’s fuels accountant, said that was the highest monthly amount that he could recall issuing here and nearly 100,000 gallons more than the next highest amount issued in the last year.

While some Airmen’s work at home station supports the relief efforts, other Airmen have put their skill sets to use in Georgia, in Puerto Rico and at the National Guard Bureau.

Master Sgt. Alan Romero, an airfield manager for the 167th AW, departed for Puerto Rico three days after the Hurricane Maria made landfall there. For fifteen days, he supported airfield operations, controlled by the 123rd Contingency Response Group, at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan.

He also served as a liaison between the 123rd CRG and the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.

“Being bilingual allowed me to converse with each entity, this ability allowed them to fully express their needs and wantsin their native language,” Romero said.

Romero noted he worked day shifts while there since a curfew was in effect.Staff Sgt. Michael Henderson, a sustainment services specialist for the 167th Force Support Squadron, is on temporary duty at the National Guard Bureau tasked with coordinating requests for services personnel and disaster relief mobile kitchen trailers and food packages to support troops assisting with recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“These resources are coming from locations around the U.S. and it’s quite a logistical feat. It’s amazing everything that’s being done to assist these locations,” Henderson said.

The 167th’s air transportation specialists are playing a vital role in getting those resources moved from location to location.

Fourteen air transportation specialists and two vehicle operators from the Wing are supporting air terminal operations at the 165th Airlift Wing, Savannah Air National Guard Base, Ga., which is operating around the clock as a hub for ANG airlift of cargo and passengers into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Several of those Airmen worked long hours supporting relief efforts after hurricanes Harvey and Irma and stepped up once again to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Bales, a command post controller for the 167th AW, is also at the 165th AW, assisting their command post, tracking and monitoring flights into and out of the hub there.

“It was really an entire wing effort to support the ongoing recovery efforts,” said Col. Shaun Perkowski, commander of the 167th Airlift Wing. “Many of our personnel worked consecutive weekends to support operations in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. The value of airlift cannot be underestimated, but there is so much more which goes into planning and executing those missions including deploying our personnel, whether to help with cargo in Harrisburg, Pa., or Savannah, Ga., which has proven to be vital to this effort. It cannot be understated that all of these efforts could not happen without the 167th’s spirit of service and volunteerism.”