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AETC responds in force to hurricane victims

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- During the first week of operations, more than 800 Airmen from Air Education and Training Command bases deployed to support various areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina and more are on their way.

Following a direct hit by the hurricane Aug. 29, Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., evacuated more than 1,200 Airman trainees to Sheppard AFB, Texas. At Sheppard AFB all the students were accounted for and provided food and shelter.

In conjunction with their own recovery efforts, military personnel at Keesler delivered more than 12,000 Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE's), 11,000 bottles of water and a truckload of ice to residents in the Biloxi/Gulfport area.

"Approximately 400 students volunteered to remain at Keesler to assist with these humanitarian efforts," said Lt. Col. Claudia Foss, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs chief.

Brig. Gen. William Lord, 81st TRW commander said, "I'm extremely proud to see this community come together for the common goal of preserving and restoring our mission and our way of life."

Other AETC bases throughout the command continue to assist recovery efforts around the clock. All bases are designated as safe havens and are providing lodging and other logistical support as needed, according to AETC command officials.

"Altus AFB, Okla., continues to provide airlift support for movement of people and equipment to and from Keesler as well as supporting airlift requests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency," said Jim Weslowski, 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs chief. "Altus launched 42 airlift missions to Keesler and New Orleans. Additionally, seven pallets of humanitarian supplies, donated by Altus personnel and residents from the city of Altus, were delivered to Keesler," Weslowski said.

C-130 Hercules crews from the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB, Ark., flew more than 26 airlift support missions, providing airlift for people, supplies and equipment to Keesler, said Tech. Sgt. Vicki Johnson, 314th AW Public Affairs NCOIC. Overall, they delivered 44.95 cargo tons and transported 427 people. The base also provided housing for approximately 199 family members displaced by hurricane Katrina.

Little Rock AFB is the sole distribution point for all foreign humanitarian aid. "More than a dozen aircraft from countries such as Great Britain, Canada, China and France delivered 228 pallets with 852 tons of relief supplies including generators, cots, MREs and water," said Sergeant Johnson. In addition to the supplies, 35 countries have pledged financial aid in excess of $500 million according to the U.S. State Department.

Maxwell AFB, Ala., is serving as a reception area for personnel from Keesler who have evacuated to the Montgomery area, to include more than 60 foreign students. Maxwell is also the staging area for FEMA and is the distribution point for supplies and equipment being sent to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. More than 800 trucks have been received and processed at the base, said Maj. Gregg Bottemiller, Air University Public Affairs chief.

Lackland AFB, Texas, was the stage for the reception of nearly 10,000 persons displaced from New Orleans. "During a 55-hour period, Lackland partnered with the city of San Antonio to help off-load passengers, provide medical assistance and transport displaced persons to shelters and hospitals around the city," said Col. Mary Kay Hertog, 37th Training Wing commander, Lackland AFB.

Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland, has seven Critical Care Air Transport teams rotating in and out of New Orleans and a 60-member contingency aeromedical staging facility team in the New Orleans area providing critical medical support. Also, WHMC received 23 in-patients, and 36 expectant mothers and their families that evacuated from Keesler Medical Center, according to Dewey Mitchell, WHMC Public Affairs chief.

A total of 79 Airmen from Luke AFB, Ariz., are lending helping hands. Of the 79 Airmen, the majority are from the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron. The 54 engineers will assist their Keesler counterparts in securing the installation's perimeter, clearing debris, and working to house displaced personnel and relief workers. Others are assisting with food preparation, housing arrangements and a medical support team providing care for active-duty military members and their families according to Luke AFB officials.

Randolph AFB, Texas, sent a team of representatives from base agencies to Houston's Bush International Airport to provide support to 67 deployed Airmen affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Airmen, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, returned early to be with their families, assess their losses and get on the road to recovery. The Randolph team consisted of medical, legal, finance, personnel, chaplain and traffic management professionals to provide these Airmen with all the help they need, said Capt. Paul Villagran, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB Public Affairs chief.

"We are proud to be participating in this humanitarian mission," said Gen. William R. Looney III, AETC commander. "AETC trains daily to meet our nation's requirements and we're doing our absolute best to provide the people and supplies that are desperately needed."
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