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JBLE command, control becomes focal point for Puerto Rican relief efforts

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 633rd Medical Group deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 18, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 633rd Medical Group deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 18, 2017. The Airmen, including teams from JBLE; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and Nellis AFB, Nevada, will support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico as part of a Defense Support to Civilian Authorities mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 633rd Medical Group boards a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 18, 2017.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 633rd Medical Group boards a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 18, 2017. The C-130 team from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, flew the medical team to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, in support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY- EUSTIS, Va.– --

Editor’s Note: This article is part of series highlighting Joint Base Langley-Eustis members’ contribution to humanitarian relief efforts.

 

Normally, while serving as command and control specialists, Airmen in the JBLE Command Post focus on the varied missions of the base and its tenant wings.  

 

However, one critical mission called on these Airmen to support a global response mission Sept. 28. 

 

Overnight, the JBLE Command Post became a command and control focal point for Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts, coordinating with Air Mobility Command, U.S Transportation Command and the Tanker Airlift Control Center, becoming a fully operational air mobility asset.

 

“I am proud of our young Airmen for stepping up to the plate, having the drive, knowing they are directly impacting a global humanitarian relief effort, and saving human beings’ lives,” said Kevin Castro, 633rd Air Base Wing Command Post chief.

 

The command and control team is supporting and coordinating efforts for the Global Response Medical Force JBLE, which includes the U.S. Army’s 597th Rapid Port Opening Element and 119th Inland Cargo Transfer Company. So far, they’ve supported a total of 23 missions, including more than 500 tons of cargo and over 123 members.

“With the significance of this mission and knowing we could support it, our Airmen very quickly trained and became the command and control focal point in support of the hurricane relief operations, changing gears and becoming AMC controllers seamlessly,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Riter, 633rd ABW Command Post command and control noncommissioned officer in charge. “In that first shift after notification, myself and another Airman had to create continuity consisting of checklists for each shift, contact lists for all the airfield agencies, daily flying schedules, and quick reference guides [while] creating everything in the mindset of an Air Mobility Command controller.”

 

According to Master Sgt. Stephanie Schwartz, 633rd ABW Command Post superintendent, the checklists were invaluable to making the mission a success.

 

“The next morning after Master Sergeant Riter and Airman Stephen Grana created all the continuity, we were able to step in with no problems at 50 percent manning,” Schwartz said. “Imagine what our team could accomplish if we were fully manned, being the command and control node for JBLE, making sure that we are here for every unit in the local area and [helping] out at any time through the process of rapid deployments.”