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Air Force Reservists Deliver Humanitarian Aid to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov. 27, 2017
What can 15 airmen and a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft do on a Denton Program mission? A lot, if they're from the Air Force Reserve Command's 514th Air Mobility Wing.

On Nov. 18, four pilots and a loadmaster with the 732nd Airlift Squadron, a loadmaster and two crew chiefs with the 514th, three Phoenix Raven Team members, and four 514th Security Forces airmen delivered 15 pallets of food, weighing 76,410 pounds, to Haiti.

"It's a high priority to get food down there," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Shawn R. Reynolds, a C-17 loadmaster with the 514th Air Mobility Wing. "Just the sheer volume of food we moved was impressive."

The humanitarian mission, accomplished through the Denton Program, delivered fortified rice and soy protein and barley grass juice powder to Haiti. This was Reynolds' fifth Denton mission.

"That food will be used for a nutrition program for orphans and school children," said Jean Lubin St. Marc, executive director of Mission of Hope. "We appreciate the U.S. military that bring Denton cargo to us."

Deliveries Began after 2010 Earthquake

Since a 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed more than 100,000 people, the 514th has delivered supplies and equipment through the Denton Program to Haiti. The program was an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1987, and it is named in honor of U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war.

"Delivering relief supplies is one of the more rewarding missions we do," said Air force Lt. Col. Samuel F. Irvin, a C-17 pilot and the commander of the 732nd Airlift Squadron.

Irvin has been on more than a dozen Denton missions during the past 10 years.

The program is jointly administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It enables Americans and U.S. based nongovernmental organizations to use available space on military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian goods -- agricultural equipment, clothing, educational supplies, food, medical supplies and vehicles -- to countries in need.

"This is the first time it has been strictly food," said Air Force Maj. Lee C. Schmeer, a 732nd Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot. "Usually it has been a mixed bag -- tractors, forklifts, trailers, and flatbed trucks, along with food."

To give some perspective on how much cargo a Globemaster can handle, it can carry an M1A2 Abrams tank, which weighs 130,000 pounds, and still have room for 40,000 pounds more cargo.

Cargo Hub

The crew received the cargo at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, which is the cargo hub for the Denton Program. In 2016, Joint Base Charleston supported 85 missions to 10 countries delivering 609 pallets of cargo and 22 vehicles.

"We're in a position to help and we're happy to help," Schmeer said.

While the Denton Program helps countries and people in need, it also serves military personnel. Aircrews that need to get qualified or have their qualifications updated volunteer for a Denton mission, and additional training will be scheduled during the mission.

"We schedule training at the bases we visit for our aircrews," Irvin said.

During this mission, which began Nov. 16 and ended Nov. 19, the 514th Security Forces Squadron's combat arms training and maintenance team trained four C-17 pilots and two loadmasters at the pistol range at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

"By using our training time, it's a win-win for everyone," Reynolds said.

Delivering the supplies was a team effort. In this case, the security forces airmen pitched in, helping to unload cargo.

"Moving Denton cargo is satisfying for me," Reynolds said. "We are moving something that matters."