MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – The 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, completed a Department of Defense strategic airlift mission by transporting more than 1 million COVID-19 test kits from Italy to the United States.
The C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft flew the test kits from Aviano Air Base in Italy to Memphis, Tennessee. They will be distributed throughout the nation from there.
The test kits, manufactured in northern Italy, were secured on 18 pallets that filled the cargo compartment of the aircraft, which was crewed by seven 167th Airmen.
The mission call sign “Reach 483” departed in the rain from Shepherd Field, Martinsburg, West Virginia, just before 8 p.m. April 14. The pallets were offloaded in Tennessee April 16, a day ahead of schedule.
Maj. Tim Siemer, aircraft commander, said he and his crew approached the mission like every other mission, with safety the priority.
“This is a high priority mission,” he told his fellow Airmen before they departed, “but that doesn’t change the way we do anything. We want to be safe, efficient and effective.”
Siemer said the team effort by the ground crews, the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and the flight crew made for a flawless mission.
In addition to delivering the test kits for the DoD, the 167th Airlift Wing is assisting the state’s COVID-19 response.
“The men and women of the West Virginia National Guard are exceptional at both our homeland response mission and our federal mission, as indicated by the work being done by our Airmen at the 167th Airlift Wing to assist the national level COVID-19 response,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG.
“In addition, we still have nearly 900 service members deployed around the world who are supporting vital national defense missions. We continue to showcase the flexibility of our force to balance the critical needs of our state while also supporting DoD missions.”