“Honestly, we were told at 9 in the morning start packing your bags and then we got a call around 9:30 to head to base as fast as we possibly could,” she said.
Facing her first real-world military mission, Senatore wasn’t sure what her team might be called on to do, but the firefighters were trained to rescue stranded homeowners hemmed in by water, she said.
“We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do but we’re going to be on hand wherever and for whatever to help with the situation,” said Senatore, a reservist who in the civilian world is a nurse’s aide at a Philadelphia hospital.
The rapid-fire tempo of the flight had the Wright-Patterson crew with the 445th Airlift Wing stopping at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., before the final trip to Florida.
The C-17 Globemaster III picked up troops, meals-ready-to-eat, cots, forklifts and a portable kitchen. Jet engines were left running while cargo was loaded on the tacmac at stops in New Jersey and Delaware.
“It’s pretty fast (and) although it’s pretty calculated and configured, it’s almost chaotic,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Benedict, 35, of Columbus and a cargo loadmaster.
Irma, Harvey, Jose. How do hurricanes get named?
Lt. Col. Brett Manger, 46, aircraft commander, made sure the aircraft was filled with 180,000-pounds of fuel for the marathon journey around the Eastern United States.
“That will get us all the way back to Wright-Patterson without having to get gas so that makes us get down there faster get all this hurricane relief support package that need it the most,” the Beavercreek resident said.
“We got a lot of people on back-up ready to go,” he added. “Once we get back, the tail’s probably going to turn and launch back out again on another one.”
The crew had an 18-hour time limit – two hours longer than normally allowed – to get everything where it needed to be and be back to Wright-Patterson, he said.
“It’s kind of rare that we get this many legs in one day,” he said.
“We get 18 hours to get on the ground and be done or else we time out so we don’t want to be stuck in Florida.”
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