459th teams with Denton Program for humanitarian mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cierra Presentado
  • 459 ARW/PA

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.-- The 459th Air Refueling Wing recently teamed with the Denton Program to deliver donated laptops to underprivileged children in The Bahamas.

The purpose of the Denton Program is to allow U.S. based non-governmental sources to transport humanitarian aid at little or no cost to the donor while simultaneously putting extra space on U.S. military transport assets to good use. 

The program is a joint effort administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State and the Department of Defense. The Denton Program provides transportation for approved humanitarian assistance commodities destined for approved countries like The Bahamas.

In 2019, the Bahamas was hit by a category five hurricane that destroyed most of the island’s schools, businesses and homes. As a result of the damage, many children were left without school supplies such as laptops. The Bahamian Embassy in Washington, D.C. partnered with North Thumberland High School in Virginia and a local Rotary Club to refurbish laptops for the children in need.

“The laptops are fully loaded with touch screens, up to date applications, and are internet ready,” said Ambassador Sidney Collie, the Bahamian Ambassador to the U.S. “The 459th Air Refueling Wing is ready to go and we are grateful for their participation in this.”

The 459th Air Refueling Wing’s 756th Air Refueling Squadron with assistance from the 89th Airlift Wing loaded 100 laptops onto a KC-135 that flew straight to The Bahamas.

“The mission was a great experience, it was my first time executing a humanitarian mission, and it was very rewarding,” said Maj. Benjamin Mattalino, 756th Air Refueling Squadron, KC-135 pilot. “When we landed we were greeted by the local Bahamians; they thanked us for bringing the laptops and explained the devastation Hurricane Dorian and now COVID-19 has caused their country. It was humbling to play a small part in something so significant.”

The 756th ARS was able to pick up the mission due to available cargo space on a planned refueling mission near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The squadron hopes to pick up more humanitarian missions in the future.