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Delivering aid through Denton Amendment: A first for one pilot

A C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster assigned to the 313th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., helps offload educational resources in Nicaragua Nov. 22, 2020.

A C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster assigned to the 313th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., helps offload educational resources in Nicaragua Nov. 22, 2020. Aircrew from the squadron flew 8,700 kg of humanitarian goods and educational resources to Nicaragua as part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)'s commitment to the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

He flew the first GPS III to be on SpaceX and sent into orbit. He conducted medical evacuations in the Middle East. But, in 2020, supporting the Denton Amendment program was a first for him.  

Air Force Capt. Jasdeep Saran, an aircraft commander on the mission and a Reserve Citizen Airman assigned to the 313th Airlift Squadron here, flew for the first time last month into Nicaragua supporting the program.

When he flew into the country, he saw the beauty first.

“We were really excited to help deliver the much needed supplies to Nicaragua,” Saran said. “It was my first time flying into Nicaragua and from the air, the country looked lush green and absolutely beautiful.”

Saran and his squadron members delivered more than 9 tons of educational resources to the country through the program. The $25,000-worth of supplies, donated by the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, Inc., located in the U.S., was distributed throughout the country.

The Denton Amendment, a State Department and USAID program that allows humanitarian aid to be flown on existing U.S. Air Force missions, on a space-available basis. These missions are flown at no additional cost to the U.S. taxpayers.

“It was a proud moment to be able to represent the United States and the Air Force in such a positive and uplifting manner,” he said. 

Ambassador Kevin Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, met the aircrew when they arrived in country.

“Very proud to be able to facilitate this generous donation during these difficult times. These donations will help those in need,” the ambassador said in a Facebook post.

Delivering aid during a pandemic added a twist to Saran’s first mission.

“The coordination to get the negative COVID test in time to be sent over to the Nicaraguan authorities proved to be one of the most challenging parts.”

But, Saran, an aircraft commander with about 1650 flight hours, and the aircrew accomplished the mission and delivered the much-needed supplies. 

In 2020, U.S. humanitarian organizations have made donations for more than $425,000 to Nicaragua organizations.