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In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, an Air Force C-17 takes off after delivering aid.
Photo by Erik Tryggestad

A journey from a food truck to an Air Force cargo plane and back again

ALTUS, Okla. — Whenever we come to this southwestern Oklahoma town to see my wife’s folks, we hit all the high points — Roberts Drive Inn, Luigi’s Pizzeria and the Friendship breakfast buffet. I recently added MeatHead Ed’s food truck to the mix. (Get the corn as your side. Trust me.)

I also make sure to visit the coffee shops — Just Brew It and White Buffalo. This time I went to the White Buffalo next to Altus Air Force Base to swap stories with Adam Matthews, the new minister for the Tamarack Road Church of Christ. He recently finished graduate work at Abilene Christian University. 


We talked about mutual friends — my former roommate, ACU art professor Dan McGregor, and Gary Ford, who runs a coffeehouse ministry in Bangkok. 

Then Adam told me how he almost got arrested in Cape Town, South Africa, while doing mission work. (He tells it better. Ask him.)

All the while, massive C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes circled above us, practicing touch-and-go landings. Altus is the training hub for the planes. They’ve also got KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-46 Pegasuses. Big stuff.

I was inside a C-17 once — in Haiti, of all places. It was 2015, and I was in Port-au-Prince with Hope for Haiti’s Children. We drove out onto the tarmac to meet the cargo plane, flown by the 315th Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. 

With a lot of help from our Haitian brethren, we unloaded pallets of high-protein rice meals for the children’s homes and schools supported by Hope for Haiti’s Children. The food came from International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES), a faith-based nonprofit. When the Air Force does training missions, they’re allowed to bring humanitarian aid under the Denton Cargo Program.

Johnny Laine of Hope for Haiti’s Children and Erik Tryggestad get a look inside the cargo plane.

Johnny Laine of Hope for Haiti’s Children and Erik Tryggestad get a look inside the cargo plane.

Unfortunately, Haiti is a bit too unpredictable right now for such efforts, my friend Steve Cooner, Hope for Haiti’s Children’s development director, told me recently. 

I pray that the flights will resume soon. When they do, I plan to ask MeatHead Ed for a sizable food donation for Haiti. 

I mean, I did just give him a plug.

ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @eriktryggestad.

Filed under: Hope for Haiti's Children Insight Insight Opinion

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