by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
10/11/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- A
317th Airlift Group C-130J and aircrew already assigned to deploy to
Afghanistan on a tail-swap mission were given the perfect opportunity to
conduct their mission and help the people of Afghanistan as well by
participating in the Denton Program and transporting school supplies to
students and teachers in Afghanistan Sept. 18.
What's a tail-swap?
"When an aircraft needs to come home for maintenance, we send another to
take its place. It happens all the time," said Capt. Daniel Oldham,
317th Operations Support Squadron. "Through the Denton Program we were
able to move humanitarian cargo to Afghanistan while doing our mission
at the same time."
Under the Denton Program, the Secretary of Defense may transport to any
country, without charge, supplies that have been furnished by a
non-governmental source and are intended for humanitarian assistance.
Such supplies may be transported only on a space available basis.
The aircrew stopped at Charleston AFB, S.C., to pick up school supplies
from Denton Program offices before continuing to Kandahar Airfield,
Afghanistan, where the supplies were dispersed.
"There was no group that asked 'hey can you take these text books to
Afghanistan?," said Oldham. "We saw what supplies were going where,
realized we had a C-130 going to the same place, and figured this would
be a great opportunity to participate in the Denton Program for the
At Charleston AFB, the crew loaded pallets of humanitarian cargo
destined for two elementary schools in Kabul, Afghanistan. A private
organization in Wisconsin organized the collection of more than 11,000
pounds of books and expects that some 3,000 children and teachers will
benefit from the donations.
"For as long as I have been a pilot in the Air Force I have loved the
missions that we do," said Maj. Patrick Sims, 39th Airlift Squadron.
"But having the opportunity to take humanitarian cargo to the
underprivileged, that's something that cannot be expressed with words."
Throughout his career, Sims has had the opportunity to transport
humanitarian cargo two other times via the Denton Program and admitted
that knowing he has helped someone never grows old.
"To be able to participate in missions like this gives me great pride,
not only as a pilot, but as an Airman," Sims said. "We are taking on
these missions to deliver donations to the people of Afghanistan, we are
affecting lives there. Being able to directly affect someone's
well-being is always a pleasure to do."
Although this is the first time Dyess has participated in the the Denton
Program, Airmen from the 317th AG are no stranger to humanitarian
efforts and have donated supplies throughout the years.
"This is not something we have to do, we want to do this," Sims said. "I
have been stationed at Dyess for four years and in that time I have
known a lot of deployments where individuals within the squadron will
get together and collect clothing or any other supplies to donate. The
people who receive the donations may never see who gave it to them, but
they know someone out there cares."