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Utah Air National Guard assists getting humanitarian aid to Ecuador

Senior Airman Peter Zuniga, 151st Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerial Port, operates a forklift while loading aircraft pallets of donated goods in preparation for airlift to the nation of Ecuador, April 9, 2020 at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah

Senior Airman Peter Zuniga, 151st Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerial Port, operates a forklift while loading aircraft pallets of donated goods in preparation for airlift to the nation of Ecuador, April 9, 2020 at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah. The goods, which are part of an ongoing humanitarian aid package, were collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Utah National Guard helps transfer humanitarian aid to Ecuador

An Ecuadorian C-130 loaded with humanitarian aid takes off from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah, April 10, 2020. The aid, which is part of an ongoing humanitarian aid program, was collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Utah National Guard helps transfer humanitarian aid to Ecuador

An Ecuadorian C-130 loaded with humanitarian aid takes off from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah, April 10, 2020. The aid, which is part of an ongoing humanitarian aid program, was collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Utah National Guard helps transfer humanitarian aid to Ecuador

An Ecuadorian C-130 loaded with humanitarian aid takes off from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah, April 10, 2020. The aid, which is part of an ongoing humanitarian aid program, was collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Utah National Guard helps transfer humanitarian aid to Ecuador

An Ecuadorian C-130 loaded with humanitarian aid takes off from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah, April 10, 2020. The aid, which is part of an ongoing humanitarian aid program, was collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

Utah National Guard helps transfer humanitarian aid to Ecuador

An Ecuadorian C-130 loaded with humanitarian aid takes off from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah, April 10, 2020. The aid, which is part of an ongoing humanitarian aid program, was collected and donated by Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah --

Members of the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Air Refueling Wing, assisted Charity Anywhere, a Utah based non-profit organization operated by Gordon and Susan Carter, with the loading of humanitarian aid onto an Ecuadorian Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft April 10, 2020 at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base.

“I’m extremely proud of the work these Airmen do day in and day out,” said 151st Air Refueling Wing Commander, Col. Kurt Davis, “This is another great example of our citizen Airmen being a part of a mission, working with another nation’s Air Force and helping our friends in need throughout the world.”

The Charity Anywhere foundation maintains ongoing humanitarian missions with several nations, including Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Mexico. The charity organization collected and delivered nine pallets of various goods, including food, rain gear, and generators to the base on April 9, 2020.

Because there was little communication between the C-130 aircrew and the 151st Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Small Air Terminal at Roland R. Wright, the Airmen thought it best to download the goods from the truck and load the aircraft pallets the day prior to the aircrafts arrival. The Airmen assigned to the Small Air Terminal downloaded pallets from a delivery truck, and transferred the goods onto aircraft pallets, readying them to be loaded the following day.

The Federal Aviation Administration maintained communication with the aircraft during its journey to Utah, and relayed the estimated landing time to the Utah Air National Guard at Roland R. Wright. When the aircraft arrived on the morning of April 10, the Airmen began working with the Ecuadorian aircrew to carefully load the aircraft pallets, using forklifts and loading into the rear of the aircraft. One key element that made the mission such a success was having two Spanish speaking Airmen on the crew.

“You could see through the masks, the ease that the Ecuadorian members had in their face when we started speaking Spanish,” said Master Sgt. Robert Zepeda, 151st Logistics Readiness Squadron Small Air Terminal supervisor, “we were able to communicate and get things moving. They were ready to use their limited English, and so it made it really great [being able to speak their language] and I really enjoyed it.”

Within a matter of hours, nine pallets of goods along with two Ecuadorian citizens had been loaded onto the aircraft and sent it on its way to Quito, Ecuador. Neighbors helping neighbors is a phrase the National Guard uses to highlight the relationship between the National Guard members and the communities they live and work in, but also relates to the connections made between the U.S. and partner nations when able to assist in humanitarian aid missions such as this.

“I really love getting the chance to do these missions,” said Zepeda, “any type of mission, but definitely humanitarian, where we know we're helping those in true need.”