Members from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron load a cementing trailer into a C-5M Super Galaxy at Travis AFB, Calif., May 15, 2018.
USAF photo by Louis Briscese
By MS. RITA HESS, Staff Writer
On June 3, 2018, a powerful volcano erupted in Guatemala, a Central American country south of Mexico. The Fuego Volcano, which means “volcano of fire,” was especially dangerous due to its deadly combination of hot lava, ash, and volcanic gas that traveled rapidly downward with little warning and engulfed the surrounding area. Thousands of people fled, but over 100 residents died and hundreds are missing (as of early July).
As always, members of Air Mobility Command answered the plea for help. An aircraft from the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, Mississippi, flew a team of aeromedical evacuation, pediatric intensive care, and burn treatment specialists to Guatemala. They then evacuated six injured children to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas.
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) donated hazardous gas detectors, tools, and personal protective equipment to assist Guatemalan emergency personnel at the site. Ironically, Guatemala hosted a relief exercise earlier in 2018 that involved an eruption at Fuego. More than a dozen nations participated, including residents of two communities adjacent to the volcano.
On American soil, a volcano erupted in May on the island of Kilauea in Hawaii. It did not pose a sudden threat to residents like Fuego, but the activity threatened wells at a geothermal plant there. The 22nd Airlift Squadron from Travis AFB in California answered an urgent request to deliver a 55,000-pound cementing trailer aboard a C-5M Super Galaxy that helped mitigate potential well control hazards.
The 22nd Airlift Squadron is no stranger to critical payload deliveries. Unit personnel transported cargo to support hurricane relief in Texas and Puerto Rico last year, and they delivered supplies to Mexico after an earthquake. Indeed, the U.S. military has a history of assisting with international relief efforts—such as when hurricanes Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), and Maria (2017) caused widespread devastation in Haiti, St. Martin, and Guadalupe.