The Desert Hawks of
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26 sent two aircraft and more
than half their detachment to Pakistan Oct. 15 and 16 to help
deliver medical supplies, water and tents to earthquake victims to
support the government of Pakistan’s relief efforts.
HSC-26 provides logistic support to naval assets deployed in the
North Persian Gulf.
In addition to providing support as part of maritime security
operations in the region, Lt. Cmdr. Todd Vandegrift, officer in
charge of HSC-26, said his squadron would deploy 25 Sailors and two
MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to help those in need in Pakistan.
Pakistan was the epicenter of a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake
Oct. 8 that has left thousands of people dead and millions without
homes. “We will be providing flight relief, support, water,
food and shelter to distant portions of Pakistan [and] flying to
different points most affected by the earthquake,” said
The squadron used U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft to fly the
helicopters and personnel to the Disaster Assistance Center in
Pakistan. The capabilities of the MH-60 helicopters and the
proximity of the squadron to the relief center were factors in them
being selected for the mission.
“[The MH-60] is the newest helicopter to the fleet,”
he said. “It’s an all-weather helicopter with night
vision device capability, extensive search and rescue capability
and also serves as a logistics platform. Our air asset, the C-17 in
this case, allows us to get there quickly to set up our
HSC-26 will work closely with Task Force Griffin, an Army quick
reaction force comprised of H-47 Chinook and H-60 Blackhawk
helicopters, Vandegrift said. Task Force Griffin deployed from
Afghanistan to provide airlift support to the government of
Pakistan. “There are two MH-53 helicopters from Bahrain, as
well,” said Vandegrift. Vandegrift said the mission was
important on both humanitarian and political levels.
“This allows the United States and the U.S. Navy to
support an important ally and lend support to those in need,”
he said. “It’s very uplifting to know that you can do
something to help someone else.”
He said the Sailors deploying to Pakistan felt privileged to be
part to the relief effort.
“I think we have great men and women in this detachment,
and they were more than willing to do whatever it takes to help
someone else,” Vandegrift said.
One of those Sailors, Storekeeper 1st Class Jennifer Capili from
Houston, agreed that it was an honor to be part of the ongoing
“These people need help, and it just feels good to be able
to help,” she said. “A lot of people are starving
there, and [are] without homes.” [ANN Salutes Journalist 2nd
Class Cassandra Thompson, US 5th Fleet Public Affairs]