DAYTON, OH, UNITED STATES
Story by 1st Lt. Rachel Ingram
During the October unit training assembly, the 87th Aerial Port Squadron processed nearly 100,000 pounds of food and water filtration kits bound for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Hope Boxes, hand-packed by volunteers in Cincinnati, are being military airlifted through the Denton program, an amendment named for former Navy pilot and senator Jeremiah Denton, which allows the DoD to transport humanitarian supplies from nonprofit organizations to nations in need, with no added cost to the DoD or the nation accepting the aid.
Over the years, the 87th APS has helped move approximately 814 tons of supplies to four different countries, said Chief Master Sgt. Sean Storms, aerial port manager.
“The agencies providing the aid bring us anything from food and cots to firetrucks,” Storms said. “We ship it all.”
The humanitarian supplies are transported on military aircraft on a space-available basis. The 87th APS typically processes this unique cargo once every few months, said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Shaffer, ATOC senior controller.
“Today we’re processing about 100,000 pounds of food and water filtration systems for airlift next week,” he said.
The Hope Boxes, provided by A Child’s Hope International, contain nutritious, vegetarian meals that require 20 minutes of boiling to prepare, and are shelf-stable for three years prior to cooking. Additionally, the organization sends enough Proctor & Gamble water purification packets in each Hope Box to provide 100 gallons of clean drinking water. The shipment the 87th APS processed in October contained over 300 Hope Boxes, equaling 30,000 gallons of purified water and 64,000 child-portioned meals.
“What we’re doing here today really matters to someone out there,” said Tech. Sgt. John Hardisky, cargo processing supervisor. “Not only will their quality of life will be impacted because of this shipment, but for some people, this could mean the difference between life and death.”
Once the shipment arrives in Haiti, several local agencies will pick up their portion and distribute it to children and families impacted by ongoing natural disasters in the Caribbean.