NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan (March 30, 2011) - Four twin engine cargo aircraft (C-2) sit quietly along the flightline of Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, waiting for their next missions.
Two of the C-2 aircraft have their wings spread out, ready to begin training missions. The third is being warmed up in preparation to deliver light cargo.
These C-2 aircraft belong to Detachments (DET) 1, attached to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) based out of San Diego, and DET 5, attached to the USS George Washington (CVN-73) based out of NAF Atsugi. Both DETs are part of the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.
Since March 11, different military squadrons and aircraft from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force have had their efforts reported during Operation Tomodachi. But through it all, DET 1 and DET 5 of VRC-30 have quietly completed their missions successfully and without them, it would be difficult for others to complete theirs.
“The helicopters get their supplies from someone,” said Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Michael R. Harris, 24, of St. Louis, Mo. “We’re the ones who bring it to the ship for the helos to deploy it elsewhere. A lot of people don’t know about us.”
According to Cmdr. Jason Hammond, VRC-30 commanding officer, based in San Diego, the C-2 and their detachments are used well for initial, immediate response. “We can get a capable platform into a position where it makes a difference very quickly.” But after that, Hammond said, the C-2 should be removed from the effort once the larger organization is running or it could have a major impact on fleet support.
The primary role of the VRC-30 detachments is to bring supplies that service the ship they are attached to.
During Operation Tomodachi, however, they have taken on a different role.
“Our mission is the same as our mission anywhere we go,” said Lt. Matt Gonabe, aircrew division officer of DET 1. “To deliver high priority cargo and passengers to basically the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). But it’s a little bit more unique in this situation because the stuff that we’re moving isn’t directly supporting the Reagan. It’s getting flown out by other means to get to the people that are really needing this stuff.”
As more support has arrived in Japan, however, missions of supplies to the ships have decreased.
Other means of accessing the damaged areas of Japan are being opened, according to Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Jonic, officer in charge (OIC) of Detachment 5, based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. Roads are being cleared and more capable helicopters are delivering humanitarian relief supplies.
The missions of the C-2s and their detachments is changing back to their initial purpose of supporting aircraft carriers and once again, fading into the background.
“Once the effort is up and running,” Hammond went on to say, “the C-2s must be allowed to leave and support the fleet.”
No one argues this fact. It’s a part of being VRC-30.
“This is us,” said Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Edgar Allen Morris, Jr., of Houston, Texas. “We fly the C-2. No one really knows what the C-2 is. We fly cargo and passengers and we’re out here moving stuff to help the people of Japan. It’s not for the recognition. It’s our job, we do it.”