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Airmen, local utility companies support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

An Air Force loadmaster assigned to 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve, load an Arizona Public Service utility vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix on November 2, 2012.  The 161st ARW will facilitate the loading and transportation of Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service line crews, support staff and required vehicles in efforts to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Kelly Deitloff/Released)

An Air Force loadmaster assigned to 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve, load an Arizona Public Service utility vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix, Nov. 2, 2012. The 161st ARW will facilitate the loading and transportation of Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service line crews, support staff and required vehicles in efforts to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Deitloff/Released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- The 161st Air Refueling Wing, along with the support of the 621st Contingency Response Wing Travis Air Force Base, Calif., have helped launch 16 aircraft in support of the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

The aircraft, both C-5s and C-17s, contained utility vehicles, equipment and personnel from Arizona's Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service bound for New York State. Ninety-eight employees and more than one million pounds of cargo are expected to remain in Long Island, New York, for up to two weeks. SRP and APS will support the local utility companies restore power to the more than two million New Yorkers who have been without electricity since Monday evening.

According to Colonel Joe Wilson, Commander of the 161st Maintenance Group Commander, it's been a complete team effort by everyone that has been involved.

"The civilian power providers and the AirmenĀ here at Sky Harbor have worked together to get the mission accomplished," Wilson said. "Everyone has been doing their role and doing their part and what needs to be done to get the equipment to the East Coast so we can help our fellow citizens up there."

Master Sgt. Robert Davenport , 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron joint inspections supervisor, worked with the 621st CRW and believes that working together has been a smooth transition.

"We worked side by side," Davenport said. "We split the work load evenly and they integrated right in just like being a part of the team."

According to Senior Airman Kevin Gimenez, 161st Maintenance Group crew chief, knowing that his unit is having an impact in the hurricane relief efforts gives him great motivation.

"It's a great feeling to know that we are able to help out any way we can for the East Coast." Gimenez said.