SOF Support
Apr 24, 2009
AFSOC Airmen save Haitian earthquake victim, land more than 600 aircraft on island

Posted 1/17/2010 Updated 1/17/2010 Email story Print story

by Senior Airman David Salanitri
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

1/17/2010 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- Special-operations Airmen from Hurlburt Field, Fla., hit the ground sprinting earlier last week, kicking off the U.S. Southern Command's overall Haiti humanitarian mission.

The Airmen have performed a wide range of missions to include medical support, airfield management and weather observation in the devastated country, which suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and numerous aftershocks.

"We arrived the first evening with three U.S. aircraft. Within 28 minutes we established command and control, airfield management, and were able to land aircraft that night," said Col. "Buck" Elton, Joint Special Operations Task Force commander. "On a typical day, the Port-au-Prince airport lands about three aircraft. Since we landed Wednesday, over 600 aircraft have landed and taken off."

As of Friday, Haitian air controllers returned to duty, providing long range control while the combat controllers prioritized incoming aircraft, directed landings and take offs while balancing confined parking ramp space.

According to a factsheet released by Air Force South officials, the Haiti Flight Operations Coordination Center has been created to oversee the efficient arrival, off-load and departure of military and civilian relief efforts to provide much-needed aid to the Haitian people.

All aircraft delivering aid will be allowed to land on a prioritized basis. Priorities and landing times are determined by the Government of Haiti in consultation with the United States government and the UN Mission in Haiti based on current needs.

"By using the slot system, we have been able to maximize the number of relief supplies the airport has been able to take in," Colonel Elton said. "We have it so that when one aircraft departs, another takes its place."

So far, more than 600,000 humanitarian daily food rations have been distributed throughout Haiti, along with water and hygiene kits.

"We're diligently working with the Haitian government to prioritize distribution sites," said Mr. Tim Callahan, the senior regional adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. "Hygiene kits are becoming more and more important, preventing further medical symptoms from occurring."

On Jan. 16, Air Force Special Operations Command pararescuemen along with Search and Rescue members from Arlington, Va., pulled a 25-year-old Haitian female from the rubble at the university. It took them 28 hours to rescue her. She was treated by 1st Special Operations Medical Group surgeons.

Joint international work has been the underlining theme in the Haiti humanitarian mission.

"International search and rescue teams have rescued 61 people as of Sunday afternoon," Mr. Callahan said. "Out of the 61 people rescued 29 we're rescued by U.S. joint teams."

"Seeing the teams on the ground digging people out and making rescues is very powerful," Mr. Callahan said.

"I'm proud of all the quiet professionals who are deployed here," Colonel Elton said.
Here is another link:

HURLBURT FIELD — Special Forces airmen have flown 95 Americans out of Haiti as of Friday afternoon, but runways remained congested in the quake-shaken nation.

The earthquake demolished the control tower at Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, where airmen were sent to establish air traffic control and facilitate the arrival of emergency aid workers.

“They had lost communications; we knew that’s how first responders would arrive,” Col. Gregory Lengyel, commander of the 1st SOW at Hurlburt Field, said Friday at a news conference at the base. “Planes were coming in literally from all over the world.”

Airmen from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron and 10th Combat Weather Squadron manned the airport, according to the Air Force News Service.

Some planes were forced to turn around, but 90 aircraft were able to land Thursday, Lengyel said. Outbound planes were flying American citizens to Miami on Friday.

The 1st SOW was running at “max capacity” Friday, landing six to seven planes carrying equipment used to run the airfield. After airmen arrived Wednesday evening, they ran air traffic for 24 hours before handing control to Haitian authorities Thursday.

“Haiti’s making decisions of who lands,” Lengyel said.

He said there were issues with some planes taking a long time on the runway, which caused some tension. Haitian leaders had ordered some planes not to leave until certain conditions were met.

Runway space was jammed with 44 aircraft at one point Friday, according to the Air Force News Service.

Special Ops teams also have been helping to search for and rescue people from collapsed buildings. They had pulled seven people from rubble as of Friday morning.

At least one other local unit was on its way to help. An MC-130E with the Air Force Reserve’s 919th Special Operations Wing took off from Duke Field late Thursday to deliver military personnel and equipment.

Lengyel said there was limited fuel available in Haiti. Refueling planes was overwhelming the Dominican Republic.

Port-au-Prince’s port also is damaged, which has made delivering supplies by ship difficult. Helicopters have been arriving from aircraft carriers.

Meanwhile, Haitians waiting for help are getting more desperate.

“People are getting hungrier,” Lengyel said. “There’s potential for civil unrest.”
She was treated by 1st Special Operations Medical Group surgeons.

This is the part that I would like to highlight, anytime AFSOC deploys; the Medics are there, but never get any press.
Nice to see them passing some credit around, to the medics and reservists and everyone involved. One of the rare instances where AFSOC can crow about what they are doing.

Gonna be a long process to fix that mess. Be nice to see it done right this time around.