JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
78,000 pounds of baby formula arrived in Indianapolis aboard a Hickam-based C-17 Globemaster III flying from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, completing the first flight of Operation Fly Formula.
On May 19, President Joe Biden authorized Operation Fly Formula to bring immediate assistance to parents of young children who could not get formula due to a national shortage.
“I’m at that age where a lot of my friends are new parents,” said Capt. Justin Shimasaki, 204th Airlift squadron pilot. “They've got these kids under 6 months that really need the formula.”
The 132 pallets of formula, which normally takes two weeks to ship commercially, took only 15 hours from loading onto the C-17 in Germany to downloading in the U.S.
“We’re trained to be able to operate anywhere in the world at any time, so it’s not a big difference for us if it’s going from Germany to Indiana versus from Hawaii to anywhere else,” said Capt. Keegan Reynolds, 535th Airlift Squadron pilot. “We’re supposed to be able to do it all and we can.”
The aircraft was flown by a Total Force Integration (TFI) aircrew, consisting of a 15th Wing active duty pilot and loadmaster, serving alongside two Hawaii Air National Guard pilots. This TFI capability provides strategic and tactical airlift capability to support local and worldwide missions of combat support and humanitarian or disaster relief.
According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the first flight alone delivered enough food to feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for one week.
“That’s why I joined the [Air National] Guard, it gives you the chance to make an impact in the community,” said 1st Lt. Jamie Greenberg, 204th Airlift squadron pilot.
Even though no one in the four-person aircrew was a parent, the crew agreed the mission was rewarding because they brought much needed help and relief to so many.
“I think how we can do it so seamlessly,” said Greenberg. “We’ve trained everyday, so when they say ‘we need it done in 15 hours’ it’s not a shock to us, it’s something we’ve rehearsed and can do effectively.”