Joint Base Charleston C-17s on alert for Hurricane Maria relief

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The 437th Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Charleston has kept busy the past few weeks evacuating 30 C-17 aircraft for severe weather threats earlier this month and embarking on dozens of missions across the world to help with hurricane relief efforts.

The fleet is now back home in Charleston but the Air Force is ready to jump back into action at a moments notice.

"Each one of these airplanes cost about $213 million. We own 48 so that's about $10.2 billion in assets. They could easily get damaged in strong storms and hurricane-force winds," 437th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Jimmy Canlas said. "I'm really proud of the men and women of the 437th Airlift Wing."

The commander gives props to the aircraft maintenance crews for keeping all aircrafts flying high.

"Our maintainers are working around the clock to generate each of these airplanes," Canlas explained. "They just don't fly on their own."

The rest of the fleet that did not evacuate were sent on missions across the globe.

Many to the Southeast to help with hurricane relief and rescue efforts.

As of this Monday, the 437th Airlift Wing has launched 31 missions to help hurricane relief.

They have transported hundreds of passengers and more than 800 tons of cargo.

"We're ready to respond to anything happening in the Caribbean or in Florida for Hurricane Irma," Canlas said. "This is why we wear the uniform. We serve our nation. It means even more when we can serve our countrymen in their time of need. It was an incredible experience to do that and I know that all of our crews are proud to be able to do that for our nation."

Four crews are currently on alert, ready to takeoff to help those affected by Hurricane Maria.

"Ready to respond just in case the need is called upon to respond to anything in Puerto Rico or to any place in the path of Maria that may need help," Canlas explained.

The 437th Airlift Wing plans on keeping its 100% maintenance effectiveness aircraft launch rate.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.