Op RENAISSANCE: CAF assists humanitarian aid air bridge in Indonesia

Humanitarian aid offload in Palu
Humanitarian aid offload in Palu. Photo: Major Colin Trudel

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Major Colin Trudel, ATF Force Protection Officer

MWO Rick Martin, ATF SWO, ATF RENAISSANCE Indonesia

Late in the afternoon of Sunday, October 7, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members from 2 Wing Bagotville and 8 Wing Trenton received the call that they were deploying early the next morning to Indonesia to aid in disaster relief efforts in the wake of a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

As a result of the earthquake, the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi was struck with a tsunami that devastated the region, leaving 2000 dead, 5000 missing, and damage to infrastructure in the region.

Five days later, in the evening of October 12, our team arrived in Balikpapan, Indonesia, the hub of the international humanitarian aid response. The CC130J aircrew was pressed into service to deliver their first shipment of humanitarian aid which had accompanied the 20 strong Air Task Force (ATF) from Canada.

The multinational task force includes 11 Hercules aircraft from Australia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. It is tasked with the distribution of aid pouring into Indonesia.

Every day at 1700 hours, the Canadian ATF Commander, Major Eric Duquette, meets with his multinational counterparts at the Indonesian Operations Centre. At this meeting, the “Air Angels” schedule launch times, and loads are solidified for the following day.

Positive connections with our partner nations has been the key to our success to date. Each day, while the aircrew prepare the aircraft for departure, support staff prepare the supplies to be loaded on aircraft. Regardless of trade, occupation or nationality, every member of the task force contributes to the effort.

Borders disappear, as it is not a Canadian pallet or a Japanese pallet they are preparing, but aid for those in need.

Image gallery

  • Major Eric Duquette at the daily “Air Angels” briefing
  • Multinational personnel including three CAF members preparing humanitarian aid pallets for transport
  • Humanitarian aid offload in Palu
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