Incirlik quick to assist Turkey with Pakistan earthquake aid

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. S.J.B. Bryant
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Incirlik played host to an array of international aircraft and provided round-the-clock manpower Oct. 18 - 19 while supporting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees humanitarian relief efforts to Pakistani victims of the Oct. 8 Kashmir earthquake.

Five C-130s from Italy, Great Britain, Greece and France arrived on base Oct. 18 only to be loaded with 29 pallets of supplies from the UNHCR warehouse in Iskenderun, Turkey, and fly to Pakistan the next day.

“Team Incirlik is ready to support the UNHCR and NATO contributions to the Pakistan relief effort,” said Col. “Tip” Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander. “Incirlik is providing enabling support by serving as an air-bridge for more than 850 tons of vital supplies to the region while continuing sustainment support to other missions.”

At the request of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Oct. 17, U.S. European Command made Ramstein Air Base, Germany, available as an air hub for the movement of UNHCR-donated humanitarian relief to Pakistan. In turn, this request allowed U.S. military members assigned here to help the Turkish air force’s 10th Tanker Base Command unload and palletize supplies in record time, according to Turkish air force Capt. Ayhan Cebeci, NATO public information officer in charge of the relief effort here.

“It took U.S. and Turkish air force members -- most from the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron -- to prepare and load blankets, tents and stoves for the first of many airlifts to Pakistan,” said Maj. Todd Cheney, 39th LRS commander. “It was truly a team effort. We had people working throughout the night unloading trucks, preparing pallets and then loading aircraft.”

The truck loads of cargo came from the UNHCR warehouse where more trucks are awaiting transport to Incirlik and ultimately, to Pakistan, said Metin Corabatir, UNHCR external affairs officer for Turkey.

“If it had not been for the combined efforts of our international friends, the supplies would not have gotten to the victims as quickly,” said Mr. Corabatir. “Weather has been our only big delay.”

“So far, we have received 19 truckloads of supplies to Incirlik,” he said. “We are waiting on 20 to 21 more trucks to finish the operation of moving the 860 tons to Pakistan. This might take two or three more days or longer. But everyone is working together to get these desperately-needed supplies to Pakistan.”