NEWS | Aug. 30, 2021

Utah Air National Guard transports life-saving equipment to Nepal

By Ileen Kennedy Utah Army National Guard

As COVID-19 infections have continued to be reported around the world, many countries healthcare facilities have quickly became overwhelmed and run short on equipment and supplies to care for the large number of patients needing hospitalization.

Nepal was one of those hard-hit countries that was faced with the rapid spread of the virus and has a growing number of its population needing to be hospitalized, taxing the countries resources. Seeing the critical needs in Nepal, people in the United States and Utah wanted to help and donate the needed commodities.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the United States has stood by Nepal and assisted in its effort to stop the devastation caused by COVID-19. Today is yet another example of our ongoing support to help Nepal in a time of need,” said United States Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry.

Within the United States National Guard, the Utah National Guard routinely has scheduled training mission to many countries throughout the world. Coordinating with the U.S. Transportation Command’s Denton Program, which allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military aircraft to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need, the Utah Air National Guard had space available on an upcoming flight to transport the humanitarian cargo.

“The Utah National Guard maintains a high-level of readiness to respond to crisis’s here in Utah and throughout the world,” said Maj. William Biesinger, officer in charge of humanitarian assistance. “And part of that readiness, the Utah Air National Guard has a mission and is going to Nepal, and we’re happy to offer the space available on that mission to provide an opportunity for non-governmental organizations to send COVID response life-saving equipment and supplies to Nepal, as they continue to combat the COVID crisis in their country.” 

The Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Air Refueling Wing planned to fly a KC-135 Stratotanker to Kathmandu, Nepal on a scheduled military-to-military firefighting and explosive ordnance disposal training mission with the Nepali Army, would have space available in the cargo area of the aircraft. On Aug. 28, 2021, members of the Utah National Guard were able to transport the lifesaving equipment and humanitarian supplies to help reduce human suffering and assist with Nepal’s COVID-19 response.

“It took a lot of dedication and hard work from multiple partners at the local and national level to make this mission possible,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, the adjutant general, Utah National Guard. “My hope is that our support will preserve lives, provide relief, and engender trust with the Nepalese people.”

Nongovernmental organizations such as Non-Resident Nepali Association, Direct Relief, and India COVID SOS, along with doTerra Essential Oils, shipped their donations of critical items and commodities to the Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base to be transportation to the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population for appropriate distribution to citizens most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our organization is involved to bring together various nonprofit organizations, in the effort for the Utah Air National Guard to deliver the human-relief support to the Nepali government,” said Rajeev Shrestha, treasurer for the Non-Resident Nepali Association of the United States of America, a non-profit 501-C3 organization. “Nepal’s resources are stretched thin, so this is an effort to save some lives, if we can, with the help of the Air National Guard in Utah. I want to thank the very generous people of the United States, as well as Utah citizens and governor of Utah, and the Utah Air National Guard.”

The donations will target needs identified by the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population and provide critical assistance to Nepal at a crucial time.

“This effort by the Utah National Guard in offering space available truly is an offering of good will to the people of Nepal we hope to reduce human suffering and increase a relationship of trust and respect as the Utah National Guard hopes to increase our involvement throughout the region,” said Biesinger.