Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
1st U.S. Military Aircraft Bring Displaced Egyptians Home
U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, joined Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft in airlifting displaced Egyptians citizens to Cairo from Djerba, Tunisia, late on March 5, 2011. <br /> <br />More than 300
DJERBA, Tunisia -- U.S. airmen from the 435th Air Mobility Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base unload blankets, tarps and water containers donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development off of a C-130 aircraft in Djerba, Tunisia, March 4, 2011. The U.S. government is working intensely with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and others in the country who fled across the borders. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: DJERBA, Tunisia -- U.S. airmen from the 435th Air Mobility Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base unload blankets, tarps and water containers donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development off of a C-130 aircraft in Djerba, Tunisia, March 4, 2011. The U.S. government is working intensely with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and others in the country who fled across the borders. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens) Download full-resolution version
DJERBA, Tunisia --  Displaced Egyptian citizens who have fled to Tunisia from violence and instability in Libya are transported aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130J from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt, on 
March 5, 2011. This response to the developing humanitarian crisis is part of a broader U.S. government effort to relieve suffering caused by the crisis the in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: DJERBA, Tunisia -- Displaced Egyptian citizens who have fled to Tunisia from violence and instability in Libya are transported aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130J from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt, on March 5, 2011. This response to the developing humanitarian crisis is part of a broader U.S. government effort to relieve suffering caused by the crisis the in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens) Download full-resolution version
CAIRO, Egypt -- U.S. C-130J aircraft carrying Egyptian refugees arrives at Cairo&#39;s International Airport on March 5, 2011. This is the first of many scheduled flights from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt. This response to the migration emergency is part of the U.S. forces commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced victims of the crisis in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: CAIRO, Egypt -- U.S. C-130J aircraft carrying Egyptian refugees arrives at Cairo's International Airport on March 5, 2011. This is the first of many scheduled flights from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt. This response to the migration emergency is part of the U.S. forces commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced victims of the crisis in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens) Download full-resolution version
DJERBA, Tunisia -- U.S. airmen from the 435th Air Mobility Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base unload blankets, tarps and water containers donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development off of a C-130 aircraft in Djerba, Tunisia, March 4, 2011. The U.S. government is working intensely with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and others in the country who fled across the borders. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
DJERBA, Tunisia --  Displaced Egyptian citizens who have fled to Tunisia from violence and instability in Libya are transported aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130J from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt, on 
March 5, 2011. This response to the developing humanitarian crisis is part of a broader U.S. government effort to relieve suffering caused by the crisis the in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
CAIRO, Egypt -- U.S. C-130J aircraft carrying Egyptian refugees arrives at Cairo&#39;s International Airport on March 5, 2011. This is the first of many scheduled flights from Djerba, Tunisia to Cairo, Egypt. This response to the migration emergency is part of the U.S. forces commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced victims of the crisis in Libya. (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brendan Stephens)
U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, joined Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft in airlifting displaced Egyptians citizens to Cairo from Djerba, Tunisia, late on March 5, 2011.

More than 300 passengers were afforded safe passage during four flights.

The aircraft and teams conducted the humanitarian shuttles in support of U.S. President Barack Obama's call to provide support for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in assisting those fleeing the ongoing conflict in neighboring Libya. The Egyptian government had asked the U.S. for help in returning evacuees from Tunisia.

Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Charles "Doc" Schlegel, commanding the Air Force team, said the crews were glad to begin moving passengers. His team began operations March 4 by delivering humanitarian supplies for USAID to donate to the Red Crescent Society of Tunisia.

"This is why we are here, so we are all glad to be able to help people get home," Schlegel said. Normally the commander of Ramstein's 435th Air Mobility Squadron, Schlegel is commanding a group of aircrews and contingency response personnel that are serving under U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). AFRICOM is directing the Department of Defense contribution in support of the State Department.

Schlegel said 17th Air Force, the air component for AFRICOM, had put the forces together and is orchestrating the airlift from its Ramstein headquarters.

"They have done a great job of coordinating the effort. We stand ready to support the State Department and any requests they have," Schlegel said.

For now the effort involves safely moving passengers from the developing humanitarian crisis on Libya's borders to their home country. As the displaced Egyptian citizens stepped off the ramps of the Super Hercules and onto Egyptian soil, they showed their gratitude to the American crews with handshakes and simple words of thanks, most coming in Arabic. A customs official waiting to welcome his countrymen home elaborated.

"Thank you for helping us in this difficult time. Our regards to the American people, and our regards to Mr. Obama," he said.

The joy expressed by the passengers lifted the spirits of the crewmembers as well, who were weary after a duty day that began 15 hours earlier. Loadmaster John-Paul Hansen said the clapping and cheering from the evacuees made it worthwhile.

"It makes you not tired anymore," Hansen said. "It feels wonderful to have someone go back and be excited to be home. It's a long day for us, but it's well worth it to help someone to get home and get back to their family."

Hansen and his colleagues with the 37th Airlift Squadron finished the day preparing for more humanitarian missions in the days ahead. The relief effort, which began less than 24 hours after President Obama directed the military support, is expected to continue as part of a broader U.S. government effort.
PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS