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Sheppard instructors, Chilean airmen fly in earthquake relief

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Candy Miller
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
Tremors, which were so powerful they shifted the foundations of the Chilean City of Concepcion, caused 982nd Training Group instructors and their Chilean air force students to dash outside of their hotel rooms there at dawn Feb. 27. Some rushed from the 15th floor.

The KC-135E mobile training team and their students arrived in Chile's capitol Feb. 22 to conduct training on the country's newly purchased aircraft. Located about 75 miles northeast of the epicenter of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake, the world event altered the team's plans, changing training exercises to practical, real-world humanitarian missions.

Within 24 hours, the training team and their students received orders fly to Iquiguqe, Chile, to pick up and transport mobile medical unit equipment to Santiago. The equipment would then be transferred to a C-130 for delivery to Concepcion, Chile.

For the Chilean airmen, the humanitarian mission provided invaluable real-world on-the-job insight.

"I believe this is the first (mobile medical unit) to be delivered," said Commander Lt. Col. Boyd Badali, deployed from the Utah Air National Guard, during one of the missions. "It's fantastic training!"

The team flew two missions daily, and trained their fellow Chilean airmen how to build pallets and load aircraft. They worked 16-hour days and bunked together in rooms without air conditioning in the 100-degree weather.

The team delivered six field kitchens that could feed 250 people each, and cooks from the Chilean Army to Concepcion. The team is scheduled to continue training and humanitarian missions until the life-saving efforts cease.

"All on (the U.S. Air Force training team) are conducting training on these missions," Colonel Boyd said. "We are healthy, rested and proud to be working with the Chileans in relief efforts."

Due to limited communication, Master Sgt. Kevin Clark, 373rd Training Squadron KC-135 training manager at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, said he maintains consistent contact with families of airmen deployed to Chile to eliminate worry.

"All team members are doing well, they have been working hard and making (us all) proud," he said.