OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Airmen from the 731st Air Mobility Squadron and the 51st Fighter Wing jumped into action on Aug. 18 when a Patriot Express mission diverted to Osan Air Base, in in the Republic of Korea, due to inclement weather.
The aircraft — containing 58 military members, families and U.S. Department of Defense civilians, and their seven pets — was bound for Misawa Air Base in Japan. The Osan-based Airmen worked quickly to accommodate the extra plane and passengers.
“The moment we received the notice to support the diverted passengers, we had to find a way to accommodate facilities, transportation, pet sheltering, food and water for 58 people,” said Lt. Kenneth Elejorde, passenger services flight commander for the 731 AMS.
The 731 AMS, part of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, operates the Air Mobility Command passenger terminal at Osan Air Base. The location is a regular stop for Patriot Express missions, and Airmen are well equipped ensure that service members can enter and leave Korea safely.
However, the Aug. 18 diversion added to the 731 AMS’s regularly scheduled workload.
Thankfully, partners at Osan Air Base stepped in to help. The 51st Fighter Wing Mission Support Group helped to give the passengers a warm reception — including providing lodging for everyone.
Lt. Col. Sabrina Winter, 731 AMS commander, said the 51 MSG played a critical role in meeting the needs of the diverted passengers.
“Our ability to respond rapidly to passengers in need shows the value in building strong partnerships, and creating a Team Osan.,” Winter said. “We are grateful to our 51st Fighter Wing teammates.”
“I’m always impressed with how our team comes together to meet a challenge,” added Lt. Col. Kelly Hannum, 51 MSG deputy commander.
The efforts to assist the diverted passengers extended throughout Osan Air Base.
The local animal shelter, Homeward Bound Osan, volunteered to feed and care for the pets aboard the Patriot Express flight. The local First Sergeants Council stepped in to help provide essentials such as milk and diapers. The 51st Force Support Squadron helped expand food deliver options and provide other basic needs.
“In addition to our FSS, LRS, and CES personnel who made sure these passengers had a food, lodging, and bedding, we had a number of other base organizations and volunteer groups step forward to help,” Hannum said. “The Team Osan Spouses Club and Quarantine Support Volunteers gathered clothing items for some families that had lost their luggage, built hygiene kits, obtained meal donations from some local restaurants, and even provided a home cooked meal for the passengers. Everyone really went above and beyond!”
In all, the 58 passengers and their pets arrived to welcome kits, basic amenity bags, lodging, transportation and a care team for pets.