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Drops for Denton

  • Published
  • By by Staff Sgt. Laura Tickle
  • 145th Airlift Wing

A 44-passenger bus is driven up the loading ramp of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, in preparation for it’s departure to Honduras June 4, 2021, where it will be utilized in humanitarian relief.

The $120k bus is one of many humanitarian relief items the North Carolina Air National Guard base has been able to transport for the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program over the years keeping in line with the mission of the National Guard: providing assistance during and following national emergencies.

“Since I’ve joined the North Carolina Air National Guard in 2014, we’ve completed four missions with the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program which has included a couple trips to Guatemala and recently Honduras,” states Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Graves III, air transportation/distribution flight chief enlisted manager, 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “In our first mission from 2014, we coordinated sending clothing, shoes, furniture, dental and playground equipment etc., 14,532 pounds worth of equipment, to a small farming town in Guatemala that serviced nearly 1,200 people.”

The Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program falls under the Denton Amendment 1987, which states, “The Secretary of Defense may transport to any country, without charge, supplies which have been furnished by a non-governmental source and which are intended for humanitarian assistance. Such supplies may be transported on a space available (opportune) basis.”

Many organizations across the globe utilize the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program including, but not limited to: non-profits, civic organizations, private citizens, and churches/religious organizations. Organizations like Spirit of America, and Kids Against Hunger commonly request the services of the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program.

“We live in one of the wealthiest nations on Earth; to be able to provide support to people in other countries that are less fortunate it is so important,” states Graves. “When Airmen are able to take part in this mission, you can see that it means a great deal to them.”

Generally, the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program, by means of U.S. Air National Guard transportation, moves items from more than 32 cities within the United States such as educational material, non-perishable foods, medical equipment, household and furniture items, clothing and footwear, and vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, buses etc. The weight of the items moved at one time can range from less than 2,000 pounds to over 100,000 pounds in some instances.

Between 2010-2020, 32 countries outside the U.S. were served by the efforts of the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program; namely Haiti, Afghanistan, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Iraq with the largest intake of more than 21 million pounds of relief cargo items.

“We’ve been assisting with these missions from the ground since 2014, as far as coordinating and loading, but in 2017, when we gained our new C-17 [Globemaster III] aircraft, we were able to finally be a part of the flying mission; moving items from ground to air,” states Graves. “Due to logistics in the U.S., we could potentially gain more of these missions since converting to the C-17 [Globemaster III aircraft] due to its increased size and height. We’ve tripled our cargo allotted amount giving us flexibility in Air Power.”

Outside of the obvious benefits that the Denton Humanitarian Program provides, other benefits include aircrew training across the globe for pilots, engineers, and loadmasters.

“It’s a group effort,” states Graves. “We have people that coordinate via phone calls, put together pallets, push paperwork, load the items, and fly them to a destination; no one person is more important than the next, it takes the combined effort.”