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DoD resources rushed to Haiti

By Art Powell | | January 28, 2010

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Almost a million meals shipped in one day. More than 914,000 Meals, Ready to Eat, shipped Tuesday from the Defense Distribution Depot at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany destined for earthquake stricken Haiti. It was the third shipment of humanitarian relief supplies shipped from tenants at MCLB Albany since the disaster hit the island nation Jan. 13.

“This order for almost a million MREs, along with earlier shipments from DDAG and the Humanitarian Assistance Program facility here, puts the total of MREs shipped from tenants at the base to Haiti at more than two million,” said Rita Varner, director, DDAG, MCLB Albany, Ga. “Defense Logistics Agency is planning to ship a total of 5.4 million MREs at this time.”

DDAG workers organized the details of the shipment and were ready when the first of 42 tractor-trailer trucks arrived at Warehouse 1250 for loading. The loading of more than 74,000 cases of MREs, each containing 12 meals, began at noon Tuesday and the last truck was loaded at approximately 6:30 p.m., and hit the road to Jacksonville, Fla.

“I came in at about 8 p.m. and had a crew of three and we worked until about midnight preparing for the movement today,” said Tony Brooks, site manager, DDAG. “The time consuming part of this kind of operation is the packing, such as labels. The rest of the logistics is pretty simple.”

Each truck took approximately 30 minutes to load and the entire operation moved with a rhythm of forklifts and over-the-road trucks as forklift drivers inside the warehouse placed the pallets onto the loading dock to be picked up by another forklift for placement into the trailer.

“When the shipments arrive in Jacksonville, they will be placed into containers and put aboard ships bound for Haiti,” he explained.

As part of the multi-national relief effort, the DDAG supplies would be loaded into containers at JaxPort, the sprawling commercial seaport in Jacksonville, Fla., by an Army unit, the 832nd Battalion, Surface Deploy-ment and Distribution Command.

The trucks awaiting loading at DDAG were lined up to move into the loading dock when called, and drivers shared their thoughts about moving cargo such as the MREs to help people in need.

“This is the second trip I’ve made carrying supplies,” said George Dilworth, a trucker from Webb, Ala., whose company was contracted to participate in the latest movement of supplies. “It feels good to know I’m carrying food to help people. I have six kids and eight grandkids and I’ll tell you right now that if anything happened over here, I hope somebody would be there to help us.”

The Haiti relief effort is bringing together military and civilian relief agencies from around the world following the deaths of approximately 150,000 people from the earthquake and the immediate need for the care of hundreds of thousands of people. Both military and civilian personnel are supporting the effort.

“My guys are the unsung heroes. We hear about the military all the time and they are heroes, no doubt about it,” said Varner. “But these civilians who are right here, boots on the ground, are heroes who do this kind of work day in and day out, everyday, just like the military. When push comes to shove, they always step up to the plate.”


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