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349th AMW delivers “heaven sent” aid for Haitian children

  • Published
  • By 349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
  • 349th AMW Public Affairs

A 349th Air Mobility Wing aircrew from Travis Air Force Base, California, opened the tail of their C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 24 at Port Au Prince, Haiti, and delivered an unusual cargo load: three yellow school buses.

With ongoing civil strife in Haiti endangering the lives of children simply trying to make their way to and from school each day, providing buses for them became a priority for Those Angels, a non-governmental organization located in Oakland.

“I’m very grateful for Travis Air Force Base stepping up,” said Claude Joseph, founder of Those Angels. “We just made one phone call and it took off from there.”

Fortunately, when Airmen at Travis received Joseph’s call, they were no strangers to the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program. According to U.S. Transportation Command, the program helps move humanitarian cargo donated by U.S.-based NGOs “to developing nations to ease human suffering.”

Active-duty aircrews at the 60th AMW have delivered numerous aid packages under the program over the past few years, including one that delivered 90,000 pounds of aid to Honduras in August. When it was determined that their aircrews were not available for the mission to Haiti, they turned to their Reserve partners at the 349th AMW to deliver the golden payload.

Capt. Neil Brown, 301st Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, was undergoing upgrade training to become an aircraft commander when this mission came up.

“I was excited to do this,” he said. “It is hugely satisfying to know we can work with humanitarian missions like this and help people. This was a no-kidding opportunity to do real good - bringing buses so kids can make it to school.”

But before Team Travis answered the call, the San Diego Unified Board of Education did the same by voting to donate 10 decommissioned buses for the children in time for their first day of school on Oct. 3.

“For those of us in education, nothing hurts our hearts more than the suffering of children, whether they live in San Diego or anyplace else,” said San Diego Unified Board President Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne in a recent district newsletter. “We are grateful for the opportunity to provide the children of Haiti with a source of hope for years to come, and we hope to inspire others to join us, because San Diego is a generous community.”

Reservists at March Air Reserve Base also played an important role in the aid mission when Airmen from the 452nd AMW took delivery of the three buses at the Southern California base on Sept. 10 and prepared them for the incoming Travis C-17 aircrew.

"I’m very grateful for Travis Air Force Base stepping up,” said Claude Joseph, founder of Those Angels. “We just made one phone call and it took off from there."

Joseph said that acquiring transportation for aid is one of the greatest difficulties NGOs face, but through the Denton Program and Airmen who are committed to making a difference, “thousands of students have been safely taken back and forth to school,” since their humanitarian efforts began.

“Together, we have now delivered three of the ten buses San Diego Unified donated, which will make an immeasurable impact,” said Joseph. “These buses are heaven sent.”

(Online applications and additional information about the DOD Humanitarian Assistance Programs, Denton and Funded Transportation's Programs, are available at