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Thoughts from Indonesia - Flying Officer Gemma Day

5 January 2005

Thoughts from Indonesia - Flying Officer Gemma Day

Flying Officer watches on as her team loads a RNZAF C-130 Hercules.

The day in Jakarta starts early for Flying Officer Gemma Day, who's in charge of loading badly needed aid on to two RNZAF C-130 Hercules flying in Indonesia.

It's the first time the young officer has been involved in a disaster relief operation, and she confesses she didn't know what to expect.

"We're a lot busier than I thought we would be, everyone's exhausted yet everyone wants to help."

Gemma, who's from Whangarei but posted to RNZAF Base Ohakea, deployed to Indonesia on the first C-130 Hercules, which left New Zealand on December 28.

As a member of the Air Load Team the hours are long and the work physical.

"We start at four in the morning and we have to load as much stores and as many people as we can."

" We have no idea what we're loading until we get on the tarmac then we have to put the aid in to pallets and load it on the aircraft."

The RNZAF Air Loading Team loads aid on to a C-130 Hercules bound fo Banda Aceh at Halim Airfield in Jakarta. An Indonesian Armed Forces Hercules can be seen in the backgroud.

The Air Load Team working out of Jakarta started with just three people, but has now been bolstered to a crew of eleven.

For Gemma seeing the aid get to the ravaged region of Ache has outweighed the heat and exhaustion.

" We heard people needed baby milk and baby products, so that's what we've been loading. It's nice to know that stuff is getting through to the people who need it."

But away from the airfield the scope of the disaster still hasn't hit home.

"It's quite surreal here in Jakarta as the whole place is up and running, but you know you're surrounded by death."

"I haven't had a good cry yet, but then again I haven't really had time to myself, it's just been too busy."


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