This is what can happen when a community comes together. Just over 39,000 pounds of goods were loaded into two KC-135 aircrafts Tuesday, bound for Puerto Rico.
The plea came last week from a volunteer group called United for Puerto Rico DMV (Unidos Por Puerto Rico DMV).
“We need to get this over there because there are people who are desperate. They’re people who are dying,” said an emotional volunteer, Eduardo Conde.
The group, together with the area’s communities, collected two warehouses-worth of goods, but didn’t have the means to get those donations to Puerto Rico. They were pleading for someone to donate ship cargo space or a plane. Little did they know one of their own volunteers was listening.
“I was just folding shirts,” laughed Airman First Class Belle Anderson.
Then near Hanger 2 and Joint Base Andrews, it got emotional.
“Feels good,” she said as her eyes welled with water. “Like, how else can you help them but bring the goods to them, you know, putting everything aside and just actually helping people get the resources that they need and anyway possible with just, being selfless. That’s all it is,” Anderson continued.
She asked around at work after hearing the plea for help and before she knew it, the 113th Wing of the D.C. National Guard was all in.
Someone there had contacted National Guard friends working in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. That person managed to find a few planes with extra cargo space and sent two on Friday and Monday. Two more landed at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday.
“It makes me feel very proud, you know, of being part of this organization,” said the 113th Wing Commander’s Executive Assistant, Aneliese Hernandez. She summed up how much the help means while explaining her connection to the Island.
“I have yet to be able to talk to my mom,” said Hernandez.
The D.C. National Guard has been donating their extra time outside of work to make this all happen. The flight crew Tuesday was able to participate under an Air National Reserve training mission.
The water and diapers packed Tuesday are expected to arrive in Puerto Rico before midnight. The National Guardsmen there are coordinating with FEMA to make sure efforts are not duplicated.
WUSA9 was told one aircraft took 27,080 pounds of donated goods. The second took 12,060 pounds.