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Air Guard unit returns from humanitarian mission to Haiti

Two C-130 crews flew humanitarian aid items to Haiti and returned several American citizens to the United States, Jan. 19, 2010. One aircraft had over 60 people onboard. The people from Haiti were dropped off at Homestead Air Reserve Station in Florida before the crew returned to Berry Field, Nashville.

Two C-130 crews flew humanitarian aid items to Haiti and returned several American citizens to the United States, Jan. 19, 2010. One aircraft had over 60 people onboard. The people from Haiti were dropped off at Homestead Air Reserve Station in Florida before the crew returned to Berry Field, Nashville.

A member of the 118th deboards from the first C-130 to arrive back from Haiti, January 20, 2010. The crew returned more than 60 Americans from Haiti to the United States, dropping them off at Homestead Air Reserve Station, Florida, before returning the Berry Field.

A member of the 118th deboards from the first C-130 to arrive back from Haiti, January 20, 2010. The crew returned more than 60 Americans from Haiti to the United States, dropping them off at Homestead Air Reserve Station, Florida, before returning the Berry Field.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Members of the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air Guard returned to Nashville Wednesday following a humanitarian mission to Haiti.

The two C-130 airplanes landed on U.S. soil with both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from Haiti.

On the ground in Port-au-Price, Major Tim Heichel described the scene as "pretty chaotic."

"There is a lot of traffic trying to get in there and a lot of traffic trying to get out," recalled the pilot

Major Heichel's crew left Nashville early Tuesday morning.

On the way, they stopped at Pope Air Force base in North Carolina to pick up soldiers and equipment to take to Haiti.

While in Haiti, Heichel said they "dropped off two humvees and some passengers, some Army folks, who are going to stay there for a while to help with the recovery."

He said normally, when a plane lands, a pickup truck with lighted arrows will lead the plane to a place to park.

In Haiti, the Army was making due with what they had.

"In this case, it was an Army guy on a four wheeler," said Heichel. "No designated parking spots. They just park you as close as you can tolerate to another airplane."

Heichel told News 2 they had a short delay waiting for the passengers to be cleared to leave the country but in the end, returned with around 60 people.

"A lot of children were on our flight," he said. "We brought back a little over 60 folks to Homestead Air Force Base where they were dropped off and processed by [United States] Customs and Border Patrol."

Heichel told News 2 he and his crew were glad to be able to help.

Crews from the 118th Airlift Wing based at Berry Field have participated in humanitarian missions to Rwanda, Honduras and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

To watch the video of this story or to see more photos, go to www.wkrn.com.

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