PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — As relief continues to pour into Haiti after a devastating earthquake, aid packages being delivered by one military organization truly reflects the multi-national effort to assist the people of the stricken island nation.
A load of aid equipment and supplies was delivered to the Port-au-Prince airport by the Heavy Airlift Wing, a multi-national endeavor, based at Pa'pa Air Base, Hungary. This first load of aid relief, delivered on Jan. 18, was organized by Sweden; flown by a multi-national aircrew from America, Sweden, Romania, Norway and Poland; and delivered equipment and aid workers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Estonia. The wing delivered a second load of aid relief Jan. 21.
"This is our very first humanitarian mission to execute," said Swedish Air Force Maj. Erik Lindstrom, chief of intelligence for the wing. "The first delivery was aid workers, equipment and supplies for an aid headquarters center, and this second delivery is logistical supplies for the headquarters center and its staff."
"This is actually what it's all about," said Swedish Air Force Col. Fredrik Heden, the wing's vice commander. "Through the effort and cooperation among the 12 Strategic Airlift Capability nations, we are able to contribute faster and more effectively than would have been the case if each nation should act by themselves."
The second mission transited Lajes Air Field, the Azores, en route to Haiti. "We'll be running at full speed until all the support equipment is there," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Leonard Kosinski, commander of the wing's Heavy Airlift Squadron. "We are all working and living together, and it's been amazing to see our team coming together on this," Kosinski said.
"Air mission planners and aircrew members are all committed to delivering as much aid and relief to the Haitian people as possible," Lindstrom said. "For those in desperate need, we know there is no such thing as fast enough. We are taking this step-by-step, but we are moving as fast as we can."
The wing operates three C-17 cargo aircraft and includes North Atlantic Treaty Organization member nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the U.S., as well as Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.
The wing activated July 27, 2009, and each of the participating nations committed to a 30-year Strategic Airlift Capability program to collectively solve global heavy airlift issues and meet obligations to the European Union, United Nations and NATO. Since its activation, the wing has flown missions in support of operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.