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Joint team supports humanitarian air drop in northern Iraq
Water bundles loaded aboard a C-17 Globemaster III prior to a humanitarian airdrop over Iraq, Aug. 8, 2014. The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircrew airdropped 40 bundles of water for displaced citizens in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Courtesy photo)
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Joint team supports humanitarian air drop in northern Iraq

Posted 8/8/2014   Updated 8/8/2014 Email story   Print story


by By Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

8/8/2014 - U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY -- U.S. Army parachute riggers at two bases in the region assembled pallets of food and water Aug. 6 and 7 for a humanitarian air drop by a C-17 Globmaster III and two C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft Aug. 8 in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq.

The aid was assembled after the Iraqi Government sent a request for humanitarian assistance to displaced citizens through the Department of State. The three aircraft, departing from two bases, dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies that included 5,300 gallons of fresh drinking water and 8,000 meals ready to eat.

"When you need something like this, you need it right now," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Schwarz, deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 11th Quartermaster Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade. "Air drop of the aid bundles allows U.S. forces to deliver those supplies to people who are in a land-locked environment or the main supply routes are not open or available to them."

The food and water was placed in a Container Deliver System, which is a cardboard container placed on a dampening material called a "honeycomb." The supplies are tied together with webbing and fixed to a self-deploying parachute. These one-time use containers are designed to be quickly opened to deliver supplies as fast as possible after they are dropped from cargo aircraft.

Making quick work of the project, the 18 riggers from the 11th Quartermaster Company can assemble 40 CDS bundles of water in two hours.

"The most challenging portion of the operation is placing these halal meals, which are MREs, on the pallets," said Spc. Jonathan Echaves, who is from Queens, New York. "It's like playing Tetris."

The aid assembled for the air drop came from existing stocks of food and water that the Department of Defense maintains in the region for rapid distribution if needed for a natural disaster or other crisis.

Once properly loaded in a C-17 or C-130, the CDS bundles can be flown to where they are needed and rapidly dropped by parachute into the area. An entire aircraft's worth of bundles exits the aircraft in less than 10 seconds. The three aircraft on the Aug. 8 mission were able to drop their cargo in less than 15 minutes.

"It was so important we did this, because these [refugees] were starving, cut off," said Staff Sgt. Justin Wright, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "Having all this come together was challenging, but it was definitely worth it."

8/9/2014 12:50:16 PM ET
I wish to thank everyone involved in this humanitarian operation. Maybe there is some good to battle evil after all. I am a U.S. Air Force Veteran and a Christian who gets discouraged by the negative news Again thanks.
Henry Bailey, AustinTexas
8/9/2014 1:20:07 AM ET
God Bless the US Air Force and US Army for doing this. As a former Navy Corpsman I get tired of our troops being bad mouthed when they do humanitarian missions like this all of the time.
David Wright, Pine Valley CA
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