Thursday, January 28, 2010

Off Topic - Haiti

I wasn't able to get to my computer to blog about this as it happened, so I've been taking blog notes.  Let me try to catch everybody up.  (Please remember this is my personal blog.  I'm not speaking on behalf of the US Air Force Reserve or any other gov't agency - I'm just passing along my experiences and what I see and do.)  I'm in the Air Force Reserve out of March Air Reserve Base, California and I work with the media... here goes:

Monday: I found out that I may be going to Haiti as a media escort.  (Neat!)  However, if one or two more media want to go - I'll get bumped off the flight.

I'm out here in California on my two weeks of Annual Tour and the gear and supplies I need are at home in Las Vegas.  If I drive home tonight and back tomorrow morning I could get them.  But that's a 5 hour drive and Murphy's Law always rules.  If I go home, I'll get bumped off the flight.  If I don't go home, then I'll go to Haiti.  I'm going to stay here and see how the cards fall.

Tuesday: The flight has been postponed until Wednesday morning.  We have 8 media going and I'm a solid member of the team.  See--I didn't go home so now I'm going to Haiti.

A girl in my office loned me her backpacking pack (she's awesome) so I just have to get a few things tonight and I'm set.  (BDU jacket liner, food and water for 5 days, sleeping bag, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and a BDU belt)  I'm getting pretty excited about this - what a neat opportunity.

Wednesday: The day started off well.  I packed up and checked out of my hotel room, ran by the office and had some espresso and did last minute errands.  At 8:30 I picked up the media at the gate - we had one guy cancel - so 7 members of the media.
8:30-picked up media
9-briefing with aircraft commander
9:30-passenger terminal to drop off bags & get on manifest
10:30-quickly move cars to long-term parking & go out to plane
11-take off!
3 p.m. West Coast or 6 p.m. East Coast time - land in Louisville, KY to get 70,000 pounds of cargo (mostly Army vehicles & supplies) and passengers bound for Haiti
9 p.m.-take off for Haiti
The Army vehicles on the plane were jiggling around on take-off (that is normal).  Thank-goodness we have good loadmasters, at the end of the flight the vehicles & pallets hadn't moved an inch.

Thursday: We landed just after midnight California time, so about 3 a.m. East Coast time in Haiti.  We anticipated picking up approximately 200 Haitian evacuees but it turns out we didn't.  We picked up 7 folks, some of which were aid workers who had been helping and working for the past week.  The airport used to operate 24/7 so that they could get supplies & equipment in, but as things have progressed they've made the airport a day-time operation.  Meaning that they send out evacuees during the day, when the State Department is open to help with Visa or Passport problems or questions.

One of the aid workers said that it's terrible.  Most of Port-au-Prince should/needs to be bulldozed to the ground because it's so unsafe.  He said that people are and will be dying of simple things like broken legs.  They just don't have the medical equipment, medicine, antibiotics or the things they need to save lives.  It's so sad, almost like we've stepped back several hundred years.

It looks like we may make another run to Haiti with supplies... more to come.

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