190th Airmen support relief efforts to Puerto Rico

Airmen load the crew’s luggage into a KC-135 air refueling tanker in preparation for its departure to New Orleans to pick up Louisiana National Guardsmen and transport them to Puerto Rico.

Airmen of the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Topeka took off Oct. 1 on a mission to bring help to the people of Puerto Rico as they try to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

“We’ve been watching the news and seeing the disaster from Hurricane Maria that took its toll on Puerto Rico,” said Col. Jarod Frantz, wing commander, 190th ARW. “We’ve had crews and aircraft on call for the last week, ready to respond when that time comes. The situation on the ground there is pretty desperate. The ability to get resources in there and get them distributed across the island has been very difficult.

“Now they have most of the airports opened up and they have most of the lighting, approach systems in there so they can actually get planes in. Air Mobility Command has been flying about 50 missions a day getting relief supplies in there.

“That’s what our crews and our aircraft are doing today,” said Frantz. “They are flying down to New Orleans. They will depart with 40 Army National Guard personnel and they will take them down to Puerto Rico to provide relief.”

The mission pilot and ground crews take a final walk around the plane to make sure everything is set for takeoff.

Typically, the KC-135R air refueling tanker is tasked to refuel U.S. military and allied aircraft as they support U.S. missions. But not always.

“The KC 135 is a very versatile aircraft,” said Frantz. “We can haul roughly 50 personnel, we can configure it to haul cargo. We can put patient litters on there and do aeromedical evacuation missions. We currently have a mission going on over in the Pacific right now doing aeromedical evacuation. We have jets and crews over in the Middle East right now supporting operations against ISIS in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”

Frantz said that his Airmen engage in a variety of missions on a regular basis and that being a Kansas National Guardsmen presents some great career opportunities.

“The fact that a senior in high school, can join this organization, get money for college, participate in these major operations around the world and actually earn a pretty good living doing it is an amazing experience,” said Frantz, “and we’re always looking for new members to join the team.

190th Air Refueling Wing helps with hurricane Maria Response

Airmen of the 190th Air Refueling Wing – Kansas Air National Guard, Topeka, took off in a KC-135R Stratotanker, bound for New Orleans. There, they will pick up about 40 Louisiana National Guard Soldiers and transport them to Puerto Rico, where the Soldiers will assist in emergency relief operations. #hurricanemaria #puertorico #coyotepride

Posted by Kansas National Guard on Monday, October 2, 2017