TINIAN, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS -- Heat rises off the asphalt as the tires to a transport aircraft land on the grey surface. The propellers slice through the air as Tech. Sgt. Jedadiah Hutt, assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Group (CRG), from Fort Collins, Colo., uses his hands to guide the plane to a halt.
The cargo door rises as a 10K adverse terrain forklift approaches. Inside, the forks reach underneath a pallet and lift it off the deck. As the forklift reverses from the plane, a pallet holding reinforced plastic sheeting is revealed during recovery operations on Nov. 17.
Airmen assigned to the 36th CRG, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, transport cargo from the parking apron at Tinian International Airport while supporting Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ civil and local officials as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-supported Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts.
“When I see that plane fly into Tinian carrying essential cargo, such as food, water, emergency shelters and generators, I know it’s a sign of hope to the people,” said Master Sgt. Tsoon Lai, assigned to the 36th CRG, from Delafield, Wisconsin. “We’re here to bring that hope to the community and help uplift their spirits.”
The eight-man, self-sustaining team is ready to go at a moment’s notice to support military and civilian aircraft flying to and from the airport.
“My team is very successful at gearing up and jumping on the flight-line at any moment to help transport cargo and personnel coming and going,” said Master Sgt. Michael Sibley, 36th CRG team chief, from Pascagoula, Mississippi. “We train for these kind of operations, and I am proud to have a team that’s effective at accomplishing the mission.”
The 36th CRG Airmen accomplish operations using two 10K adverse terrain forklifts, a K-loader and an R-11 fuel truck to assist up to four planes a day.
“The days can be long and exhausting when we’re covering the flight-line,” said Hutt. “It’s worth the hard work because we’re getting to see the food, water and emergency shelters, that we transport, go out and help our service members and the community.”
Along with controlling airfield operations, the team maintains a fully operational camp and assists the community by downloading barges and clearing debris from the roads.
“There’s some days where I’m operating the forklift until well after dark in an effort to provide additional help and support to our neighbors,” said Sibley.
The 36th CRG Airmen contributed to the transportation of 75,000 gallons of bottled water, over 28,000 meals, 1,000 hot meals, and over 490 emergency shelters in support of FEMA recovery operations, the community, and military forces belonging to the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
The 36th CRG trains, organizes, equips and leads cross-functional forces providing initial Air Force presence to potentially austere forward operation locations as directed by commander Pacific Air Force. It is a rapid-deployment unit designed at the initiative of Air Force leadership to be a “first-in” force to secure an airfield and establish and maintain airfield operations.
The 36th CRG is compromised of the 36th Mobility Response Squadron, the 554th Red Horse Squadron, the 644th Combat Communications Squadron and the 736th Security Forces Squadron.