Westover continues to support hurricane relief efforts

  • Published
  • By Airman Hanna Smith
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Patriot Wing Airmen have been instrumental in moving equipment, supplies, first responders and Airmen to support hurricane relief efforts in the South and in the Caribbean.

In fact, Westover ARB is one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s incident support bases.

In support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts Westover crews loaded 27 members and two working dogs of the Massachusetts Task Force 1 and 21,968 pounds of cargo, said Tech. Sgt. Peter Alicea-Correa, 42nd Aerial Port Squadron Air Reserve Technician.

The Task Force departed Westover Sept. 22, on a C-17 Globemaster III, for Puerto Rico.

“The advantages of Westover as a FEMA staging base are the location, hangar use to prepare their equipment and capacity to move and load large pallets access to the airfields and aircraft to be able move FEMA supplies, equipment and personnel,” said Anita Arnum, the assistant program manager of Massachusetts Task Force 1.

The primary mission of the team is life safety search and rescue, Arnum said. The team will be searching structures and possibly conducting water operations.

One of the members of their team said he uses his Air Force Reserve training to his advantage.

“As a firefighter in the Reserve, I have built a strong rescue background which has helped me prepare for this detail with the FEMA team,” said Master Sgt. Shawn Barry, a firefighter assigned to the 87th Civil Engineering Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

When the Air Force called, the 439th Airlift Wing answered—well within deployment time standards.

Prior to Hurricane Maria, Westover sent around 50 Airmen from civil engineering, public affairs, aerial port and logistics readiness down to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, in support of Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

Alicea-Correa said, Westover crews supported seven Hurricane Irma relief missions which included: five outbound C-17 missions and two outbound C-5 missions carrying 73 total passengers and 179.7 total tons of cargo.