By Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh, 62nd Airlift Wing Public AffairsOctober 30, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Millions of people in every corner of the world lack basic supplies for food, water and education. In an effort to mitigate some of these issues, the Department of Defense created the Denton Cargo Program, which allows the U.S. Air Force to deliver privately donated humanitarian cargo on a space-available basis.
Under this program, Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord transported 83,160 pounds of rice, costing almost $120,000 to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Oct. 25.
Honduras is the third poorest country in Central America and the Caribbean, and due to extreme poverty and natural disasters, more than 48 percent of the population in rural areas are malnourished, with 35 percent overall.
The McChord Field Airmen picked up the much-needed rice, a food chosen for worldwide use as it is universally accepted, from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and loaded nine pallets.
"It felt rewarding once you see how much food we actually loaded on the airplane, how many people were involved and seeing how far it actually traveled," said Staff Sgt. Marcello Moffat, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "Going all the way from Oklahoma to Honduras is kind of incredible."
By transporting the humanitarian cargo, U.S. Air Force pilots and loadmasters can become qualified or remain up to date on their qualifications for their career fields while also providing aid to countries all around the world.
"I think it's good the Air Force does these humanitarian missions," said Capt. Aaron Peercy, 8th AS C-17 instructor pilot and flight safety officer, as well as the aircraft commander for the humanitarian mission. "It helps build international relationships and fosters camaraderie with our allies."
Abundant Rain Ministries, Inc. donated the food to the Honduras Foundation for Christ, a nonprofit organization, who will distribute the food to schools, orphanages and general feeding programs for children and families within the next six weeks.
It is estimated that this one shipment will provide nourishing sustenance to more than 472,000 Honduran men, women and children.
The Denton Program shipped more than 1,780,000 pounds of goods to 14 countries around the world, to included vehicles, education materials, household items, food and miscellaneous equipment in 2019.
Participating in this mission opened Moffat's eyes to the capabilities the Air Force has to provide aid to those in need across the globe and he hopes other Airmen will have the same opportunity to be a part of it.
"After learning how many people are going to be affected by this mission, I am a strong advocate for (the Denton Program)," he said. "To be honest, I did not know about it before this mission, and I think it should be broadcasted more."
While the Air Force's mission may be to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, it also helps to improve lives throughout the world by delivering goods to those who need it the most.