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Selfridge meal shipment helps Haitian children

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Forty thousand pounds of rice/soy food packages are on their way to children in Haiti, thanks to a Michigan non-profit group and the U.S. Air Force.

The food packages, created under the direction of the Kids Against Hunger Coalition's branch in Oak Park, Mich., were loaded on to Air Force aircraft for deliver over the weekend of July 12-13. The shipment was made under the Denton provision, a U.S. law that allows military aircraft to deliver certain types of humanitarian assistance at no cost to the non-profit group so long as the aircraft is already scheduled to fly along that route.

"We do about three or four Denton shipments a year," said Master Sgt. Roque Diegel, the freight supervisor for the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron, a Michigan Air National Guard unit stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. "We've helped ship fire trucks, food supplies, water filters and medical items."

The Kids Against Hunger food kits were loaded on to KC-135 Stratotankers flown by the 916th Air Refueling Squadron, Air Force Reserve, based at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The food was then delivered to the Hope for Haiti's Children organization in Haiti.

"It's a good match where we have space on the aircraft, they have an item that needs to move. It's a good community service all around," Diegel said.

Michael Burwell, Kids Against Hunger Michigan executive director, said the shipment assistance from the Air Force means that additional monies are able to put toward the purchase of food.

"It is fantastic when so many different organizations come together and all add resources, from our many local service organizations who help to package the food, to our overseas partners and, obviously, in this case, the Air Force paying a big role in making the actual delivery," Burwell said.

Kids Against Hunger partners with a variety of churches and service groups to purchase and package their food kits, each of which include rice, soy, some dehydrated vegetables and protein powder. The food shipped by the Air Force from Selfridge will account for about a quarter million meals in Haiti, Burwell said.

Among those preparing the pallets of food and loading the aircraft at Selfridge was Senior Airman Allison Smith. A full-time student at Central Michigan University, Smith was working on annual training at Selfridge when the shipment was scheduled.

"Every shipment is a different challenge," she said. "This one obviously has a special purpose in the end."

Smith has been a member of the 127th LRS at Selfridge for about a year and a half. She previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years of active duty.

"I wanted to come home and have more flexibility so that I could go to school," said Smith, who is utilizing the GI Bill to finance her education.

Smith also worked in logistics and cargo movement in the Marine Corps.

"I wanted to hold on to what I already learned in the Marines and grow with that," she said. "Every branch does it slightly different, so its been interesting to compare the two."

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.