Friday, September 23, 2005

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Brandon Calderon

From the Defend America website, a Department of Defense Profile.

U.S. Air Force
Airman 1st Class Brandon Calderon
Airman Helps Load Supplies for Katrina Survivors
line space

By 1st Lt. Ed Gulick
4th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 23, 2005 — Airman 1st Class Brandon Calderon's first deployment came at a record-setting pace in support of the relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Calderon, 60th Aerial Port Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., left home at 4 a.m. and arrived here at 9 a.m. on Sept. 3 expecting the worst possible conditions.

"The floodwaters, the death toll, the violence, everything on the news, that's what I was expecting," he said.

Although he found himself somewhat removed from the chaos, he was heavily involved in the mission, loading and unloading aircraft.

"We hit the ground running,” he said. “The first three days we were pushing 120 missions a day.”

Thirty hours passed between the time he was notified and the first opportunity he had to sleep.

"We didn't know when we would be able to sleep," he said. "We were running on adrenaline."

After a couple of days he was able to go to the airport terminal to see what his efforts had been supporting. He helped unload much of the supplies from military and civilian aircraft to support the New Orleans evacuation process.

"I was really upset to see that much pain," he said. "It hit me all at once and brought it all home. I don't know what I'd do if it was my family.”

Although New Orleans is not the environment most expect on a deployment, Calderon is spending his nights in a tent, which he said he does not mind.

"I really think that everybody who's been thrown into this environment has done well," he said. "I've made a lot of friends here."

Calderon said the experience has been good, and he considers the memories he has invaluable.

"I really have enjoyed being here," he said. "Later on, when I have kids, I'll be able to tell them that I supported the relief effort for one of the worst disasters in U.S. history."

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