Arizona Air National Guard Delivers Health Care Equipment From North Carolina

By Scott Bourque
Published: Saturday, April 11, 2020 - 2:10pm
Updated: Saturday, April 11, 2020 - 2:17pm

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Members of the Arizona Air National Guard load PPE onto their aircraft.
Michael Matkin/Arizona Air National Guard
161st Air Refueling Wing service members unload material from a KC-135 Stratotanker to be used to make protective gowns for statewide use April 9, 2020 at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix.

The Arizona Air National Guard repurposed some of its in-air refueling aircraft to deliver personal protective equipment from North Carolina to Arizona. 

The Guard recently finished an airlift mission to bring 40,000 yards of material for personal protective gowns to the state.

Normally, the Guard’s refueling wing handles in-air refueling for military aircraft. But during the coronavirus emergency, they’ve repurposed themselves to deliver medical supplies and personal protective equipment from other states.

Wing Cmdr. Col. Patrick Donaldson says this mission was requested by Gov. Doug Ducey as part of his emergency declaration.

"The reason why we’re doing this is because obviously supply chains for PPE are very constrained," Donaldson said. "We’re looking to bridge the gap and speed the transport of PPE to the state of Arizona so it’s here on time."

This mission was the first of its kind for the Arizona Air National Guard — and for Donaldson, who originally joined the U.S. Air Force before affiliating with the Guard in 2003.

"This was a very rare event," he said. "In my career, we have not flown a mission directed by the governor of Arizona for the people of Arizona."

Donaldson said there was no shortage of volunteers from the air wing — everybody wanted a chance to help during an emergency that affects nearly everybody nationwide.

"One of our pilots, his wife is a nurse," Donaldson said. "He showed me a picture of her all dressed up in her PPE. So it's obviously a very close-to-home mission that we're flying here."

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Loading PPE into an Arizona Air National Guard tanker jet.
Michael Matkin/Arizona Air National guard
161st Air Refueling Wing service members unload material from a KC-135 Stratotanker to be used to make protective gowns for statewide use April 9, 2020 at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix.
Unloading PPE from an Arizona Air National Guard tanker.
Michael Matkin/Arizona Air National Guard
161st Air Refueling Wing service members unload material from a KC-135 Stratotanker to be used to make protective gowns for statewide use April 9, 2020 at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix.

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