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U.S. service members join forces to provide critical assistance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alex Lowe
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Public Affairs

As food became scarce in the Gaza Strip and humanitarian aid became life-saving, U.S. Army parachute riggers with the 165th Quartermaster Company and Airmen with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing stepped up to the plate.

Before March, the 18 Army parachute riggers focused on preparing and airdropping bundles meant to resupply service members throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The pace of their mission intensified as the need for humanitarian airdrops arose.

"We just hit the ground running," said U.S. Army Sgt. Jacob Engstrom, a parachute rigger with the 165th Quartermaster Company. "We just made sure that as soon as we were given the go, this shop was running non-stop, 18 hours a day, building as many bundles as possible."

The increase in their operational tempo spurred the creation of a base-wide volunteer program.

"We only had 18 personnel here when this kicked off," said Engstrom. "So we reached out to the Air [Expeditionary] Wing; within 20 minutes, I had 40 guys down here ready and willing to help however they could."

Coalition partners across the base and U.S. service members from Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, and Army units assisted with preparing materials, rigging the container delivery system bundles, and operating forklifts.

Together, parachute riggers and volunteers have prepared over 1,800 bundles of meals ready to eat, totaling more than 2.5 million pounds of critical humanitarian aid.

"We were able to build up pallets and strap them down ourselves," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ghabriel Alford, a volunteer from the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. "So to get to do a small portion of what the riggers do on a daily basis, that was definitely the pinnacle, so far, of my deployment."

Through these service members' hard work and dedication, U.S. and coalition forces supplied life-saving support to civilians in need. As missions continue to roll out, their efforts play a constant role in achieving and maintaining stability throughout the region.