On April 7, a large gathering of Mission of Love volunteers plus representatives from a few other organization were in attendance for the unveiling of the third piece of nose art to be placed on one of the C-130 transport planes at the Vienna Airbase. The nose art signified the missions that airbase crews have taken part in over the years.
The majority of civilians in attendance were volunteers with the Mission of Love, which last year exceeded 50 missions under the Denton program, which allows the military aircrafts to provide humanitarian aid throughout the world.
“The unveiling of the Humanitarian nose art dedication is a celebration and honor for those who, we together, have been able to service via our Mission of Love,” said Director Kathleen Price. “This celebration joins many hands that have contributed in making our world a better place.”
The Denton program was established as a way for crews of military aircraft to train in a live scenario. Crews perform their duties while delivering much-needed help to the poor, mostly orphaned children around the globe. Mission of Love is the nation's largest user of the program.
“We together have been able to go into countries and give the basic human rights that 80 percent of our world lacks,” Price said. “We have built clinics, schools, orphanages, and homes for societies that lack the basics such as water, electricity and education.”
During the ceremony, Col. Karl McGregor mentioned that he told the airplane's ground and maintenance crew to come up with a design. That actual drawing was done by Staff Sgt. Michele Kennedy from Warren, who is an active reservist at the base.
“It took a couple of days,” Kennedy said. “Then on and off to tweak it, totaling about a week.”
The finished design was then sent to a printer where a decal was produced. The decal was then applied to the aircraft.
While the nose art was meant to cover all the humanitarian missions the crews have taken part in, including the aerial spray mission in the aftermath of hurricanes, the focus was on the Mission of Love.
“Mission of Love is a Youngstown-based nonprofit organization that has used the state department’s Denton Program more than any other non-governmental organization in the country,” said Tech Sgt. Bob Barko of Boardman, who is with the Public Affairs office at the Air Force Reserve. “During the last 11 years, Mission of Love has donated and transported humanitarian aid from YARS (Youngstown Air Reserve Station) to Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Peru and Afghanistan. Overall, Mission of Love has utilized the program to airlift more than 380,000 pounds of donated humanitarian aid.”
That aid included medical supplies and equipment, school supplies, food, clothing, educational materials, and even a fire truck and two ambulances for needy people in developing nations.
Among those attending the ceremony was Dr. Michael Obeng from Poland. He is the founder and director of Restoring Emotional Stability Through Outstanding Reconstructive Efforts and is chief of plastic surgery at St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center, who grew up in in Ghana. After becoming a successful surgeon, Obeng is now giving hope to others. In May, he is heading to Ghana to perform breast cancer surgery. Later this summer, he is taking another working vacation to Guatemala to operate on 25 children suffering from harelip, where the upper lip is split up to the nose, making it hard for the child to eat. He said Mission of Love is playing an important role in that trip.
“Kathy (Price) and the Mission of Love is going to send medical supplies and equipment so I can take care of the children,” Obeng said.
When the ceremony was over there was time to talk to aircraft crews and the volunteers. Price felt the new nose art was a perfect statement for what her organization is all about.
“Wherever this C-130 aircraft goes and whoever this aircraft carries, they will know where she came from and what the nose art signifies,” Price said. “Simply a Mission of Love, Humanitarian Mission from Youngstown, Ohio’s 910th Airlift Wing, to serve our brothers and sisters in need. We truly are leading by example of what can be done when one wants to be of service and work together for the same common cause, humanity.”
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Mission of Love volunteers pose in front of C-130 number 9102 that received the “Global Humanitarian Support” noseart last week. Pictured are Bob Elston, Col. Karl McGregor, Siglinde Warren, Dr. Michael Obeng, Kathleen Price, Dr. Kathie Nelson, Dr. Rashid Abdu, Kristen Maag with children Carol and Christopher, Jeff Housel, Fred Housel, and Dr. Paa-Kofi Obeng.