Air Force rapid responders called to help

February 19, 2010 7:24:26 PM PST
The rapid responders of the U.S. Air Force packed up and headed to Afghanistan on Friday in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom."

"They call us the 911 force," said Lt. Col. Scott Zippwald, of the 615th Contingency Response Wing based at Travis Air Force Base.

In all, about 100 of the 615th will deploy this week to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

"We're going to support the flow of additional forces into Afghanistan. Our mission is to go into an existing air base and augment the capability there to accelerate the flow of personnel and equipment into that airfield and then on to the forward operating bases where they're going to be operating out of," said Zippwald.

The 615th is trained to load up and depart within 12 hours of receiving orders. Some members were in Afghanistan last fall, setting up an airfield and communications infrastructure in an otherwise uninhabited desert.

Last month, another team traveled to an airport in the Dominican Republic to support the delivery of humanitarian supplies to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

For some, this trip to Afghanistan is their first deployment.

"It's my first time going out. I'm really excited," said Airman Vincent Washington, from Jacksonville, Florida. "Don't really know what to expect. I'll see when I get there."

The 615th departed from Travis on a C-5 military transport plane Friday afternoon. At this point, they have no idea how long they will be in Afghanistan.