"En Route to Haiti…" 24•Jan.•10

Operation Smile warehouse workers unload cargo from a tractor-trailer onto a waiting SWIFT AIR Boeing 737-400 charter aircraft at Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, VA on Sunday, January 24, 2010. An orthopedic surgical team and support personnel from Penn State are en route to Haiti after the 7.0 earthquake earlier this month. © Chet Gordon for Operation Smile

Writing from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, en route to Haiti. I am traveling with a small team of orthopedic surgeons and support staff from Penn State University, all volunteering our time for Operation Smile to get to Haiti to do what they can in treating the thousands upon thousands of traumatic injuries we’re likely to see from the earthquake on December 12th. Arrived here earlier tonight from Norfolk, VA on a chartered Boeing 737 aircraft (above & left) that is primarily used to fly pro sports teams based in the Arizona market around the country. It was truly a first class operation, and most of us weary travelers forget about the few days we’ve been in Virginia awaiting air transportation into Haiti after the Marines pulled their offer to fly us directly into Port-au-Prince on Friday evening. It was a whirlwind to even be asked to document this mission for longtime client Operation Smile, as I literally got the call on Thursday afternoon in New York while working, and by close of business that day, Operation Smile people had me booked on a 10:20AM flight Friday morning to get to Norfolk to met up with the medical team, as our initial departure for Haiti was to be Friday night…
Tomorrow is an extremely early call as we’re scheduled to meet the cargo that accompanied us on the plane and begin the overland journey to Haiti. We are expecting a least a 3 or 4 hour drive to the border. I’ll do my best to send images to the Operation Smile offices back in Norfolk, as well as blogging when I can here. Stay tuned. -cg.

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