Yokota airmen still delivering relief supplies to Indonesia
June 11, 2006
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Air Force has scaled back its relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Indonesia but continues to funnel emergency supplies into affected areas.
Col. William Davidson, the 374th Air Expeditionary Group commander, said Friday that about 25 airmen from Yokota and Misawa air bases remain in the region.
Most are at Paya Lebar air base, Singapore, which is being used as a distribution hub, but seven transportation specialists from Yokota’s 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron are running an aerial port in Yogjakarta, Indonesia.
Two C-130 Hercules aircraft from Yokota had deployed to the region and as many as 90 airmen were taking part in humanitarian-assistance missions after the May 27 earthquake that killed more than 5,800 people.
Earlier in the campaign, a Yokota C-130 delivered 16 medical personnel from the USS Essex and USNS Mercy.
“There are a lot of crushing injuries, broken bones. It’s a common injury in that type of environment,” Davidson said.
“One of the medical shipments we took was loaded entirely with orthopedic supplies, mostly crutches and some wheelchairs.”
Dangerous aftershocks at the airmen’s Indonesia facility caused tiles to fall from the ceiling and forced them to find another spot for the Yogjakarta aerial port, he said.
The 497th Combat Training Squadron and a detachment from Yokota’s 730th Air Mobility Squadron, both based in Singapore, have enhanced operations at Paya Lebar, Davidson said.
He also praised the Singapore government.
“Because of their support efforts, we did not have to bring down a lot of our own equipment,” he added.
“That allowed us to set up faster, and we started flying relief missions essentially upon arrival.”
Since deploying May 31, the air expeditionary group has hauled about 70,000 pounds of cargo and humanitarian supplies into Indonesia.
Davidson said it’s unclear how soon the remaining airmen might return to Japan.