Utah National Guard delivering much needed COVID-19 supplies to Nepal

Aug 26, 2021, 8:18 PM
(Pallets of donated goods that will be taken to Nepal by the 151st ARW.  Photo: Paul Nelson, August...
(Pallets of donated goods that will be taken to Nepal by the 151st ARW. Photo: Paul Nelson, August 26, 2021.)
(Pallets of donated goods that will be taken to Nepal by the 151st ARW. Photo: Paul Nelson, August 26, 2021.)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah National Guard is giving some much needed help to the country of Nepal as they’re dealing with a massive amount of people sickened from COVID-19.  People from Nepal say it’s heartwarming to see this kind of support from Utahns. 

Vaccine rollout has been slow

Recent reports from Nepal show the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been quite slow.  According to The Kathmandu Post, fewer than 17 percent of all Nepalese people received at least one dose of the vaccine, and less than 13 percent were fully vaccinated by Aug. 23. 

Rajeev Shrestha with the Non-Resident Nepalese Association says conditions were bad enough when the original strain of the coronavirus came to their country.

He said, “Now, with the Delta insurgency, it’s just a really worse situation.  A nightmare.”

Nepal saw a big spike in COVID-19 cases

Nepalese officials saw an extreme spike of COVID-19 cases in May of this year. And they’re still dealing a huge amount of health problems from that.  Officials from Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population are reportedly worried about a third wave of COVID-19 cases, as they report between 3,000 and 4,000 new cases every day.

Shrestha says the NRNA coordinated this supply run with the Utah National Guard, and they received a massive amount of donations to send to Nepal.

(Some of the items being loaded onto a KC-135, set for Nepal. Photo: Paul Nelson)

“Oh, it touches my heart how this country has stepped up around the globe.  It’s not just Nepal,” he said.

Not a typical mission

This kind of mission isn’t usually something the 151st Air Refueling Wing would conduct. 

Colonel Doug Foster said, “We’re not a traditional cargo airplane.  We’re mainly focused on combat air deployment and refueling aircraft that are either going to or coming from the fight.”

Two trips in one

However, Foster says they already had a mission scheduled for Nepal where they would teach Nepalese soldiers the latest techniques for firefighting and explosive ordinances.  Foster says, since they were already going there anyway, the 151st ARW decided to bring as many supplies as they could with them.

He said, “We’ll have some expendable gowns, facemasks and oxygen concentration equipment.”

Foster says they received so many donations, there were three full pallets of items they couldn’t fit on their plane.  Guard members will try to find a different way to send those items.

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Utah National Guard delivering much needed COVID-19 supplies to Nepal