167th delivers power support to hurricane victims
By 2nd Lt. Stacy L. Gault, 167 AW/PA
/ Published November 04, 2012
Martinsburg, W.Va. -- Hurricane Sandy, nicknamed "Frankenstorm," has killed more than 80 people in the U.S., left millions without power and potentially changed the Atlantic coastline.
Considered one of the biggest storms to hit the northeast in the past few years, it has left millions of Americans without basic necessities such as water, heat and electricity.
To help the process of restoring electric, civilian power companies from the west coast lent equipment and personnel to the heavily affected areas. Saturday Airmen with the 167th Airlift Wing transported four power utility trucks in a C-5 from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, N.Y.
Senior Master Sgt. Doug Ferrell, the primary loadmaster for the mission, said transporting civilian equipment provides challenges in securing the cargo in the aircraft because they are tied down differently than military vehicles.
"There aren't any specific tie down rings on the vehicles, so it' very important to make sure everything is marked correctly and balanced," Ferrell said.
Cargo can be loaded at either the front or back of the C-5. With that in mind, Ferrell said if the vehicles could make it under the 153-inch clearance at the back of the aircraft, they would easily drive through the front cargo door at the nose because of higher height restrictions.
In addition to the cargo, four utility workers accompanied the equipment on the aircraft to volunteer their time and skills to assist the residents of New York and New Jersey, the most heavily affected areas.
"I guess I felt like if something like that ever happened here, I'd want people to help out," said J.J. Muth of Salt River Project, one of the utility companies represented.
As for Phil Ochoa of Arizona Public Service, he recently vacationed to Long Island, N.Y., with his family and found the residents friendly and welcoming. So when the hurricane hit, he knew what he was going to do.
"Seeing the devastation instantly made me want to go back and help the people there," Ochoa said.
Located at Stewart Air National Guard Base, the 105th Airlift Wing is less than 70 miles north of New York City. It established an Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) to bring critical power line reconstruction personnel and equipment from the West Coast to the Northeast, expediting the return of power to citizens.
"The complexity of and effort involved in this APOD mission directly corresponds to the importance of the effort to the overall Hurricane relief effort," said Col. Timothy LaBarge, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing.
Adding: "we are all grateful for the opportunity to help our fellow New Yorkers in another way."
Air National Guard units around the country continue to engage in the dual mission, serving both the individual states and country as a whole.
Ferrell said he loves this type of mission and has participated in every disaster relief effort the 167th Airlift Wing has helped with since 1982.
"It's what we do and what makes us the unit we are," he added.