As many U.S. military units and government agencies stand poised to answer the call to help earthquake-stricken Haiti, the Ohio Air National Guard already has provided two C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from the Mansfield-based 179th Airlift Wing to provide immediate assistance.
Airmen from the Ohio National Guard’s Mansfield-based 179th Airlift Wing unload supplies Jan. 13, 2010, from their C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, the first to land in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, following a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Two C-130 aircraft and five crews from the Mansfield unit are supporting relief efforts. U.S. Air Force photo
The 179th deployed about 45 unit members to Puerto Rico in support of Operation Coronet Oak — a U.S. Southern Command theater airlift support mission —Jan. 9. Three days later, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit neighboring Haiti. The same evening, three crews from the 179th were put on alert, and early the next morning the first crew was activated and was airborne within three hours.
The aircraft flew to Florida to collect search and rescue teams and communication crews and deliver them to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Shortly after, a second crew was alerted and airborne.
The first crew, led by Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Pecoraro, arrived in Port-au-Prince as the sun was setting yesterday, and landed successfully despite challenging terrain and a downed communication tower. The Ohio C-130 was the first such aircraft to land in Port-au-Prince.
The second crew, commanded by Air Force Lt. Col. William Baulkmon, arrived after sunset with three pallets of communication materials to improve departure and approach communication at the Port-au-Prince airport.
Three Puerto Rico Air National Guard aircraft have been tasked to the 179th Airlift Wing for this operation. This morning, 179th crews arrived in Florida in two of these aircraft to pick up and deliver additional supplies and personnel. They will arrive in Haiti by early afternoon, officials said.