In late November, Typhoon Abby approached Majuro Atoll, a coral reef island in the Marshall Islands, a trust territory of the United States. High winds drove 15- to 20-foot waves over the small coral reef island, which had a maximum elevation of only 6 feet above sea level. Flooding destroyed homes, contaminated food and water supplies, and disrupted communications and power generation. On December 1, President Carter declared the atoll a major disaster area and ordered MAC to undertake a relief airlift.
Between December 2 and 28, the Twenty-second Air Force flew 40 cargo planes to Marshall Islands International Airport on Majuro Atoll in an emergency airlift called Project Valentine Assist. They transported 650 tons of relief equipment and supplies from Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Andersen AFB, Guam; Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio; and other locations in the continental United States. The cargo included food, water purification equipment, an Army field kitchen, medical supplies, communications and power generation equipment, 20 trucks, a forklift, cots, tents, blankets, cooking and eating utensils, lumber, and tools. The planes also carried 250 support personnel to help rebuild the island’s infrastructure, most from the 25th U.S. Infantry Division, stationed in Hawaii.
The air fleet included 35 C–141s and five C–130s from the 60th, 62d, and 63d Military Airlift Wings, based in California and Washington. Many crews were diverted from regularly scheduled Pacific flights to assist in the emergency operation, which helped the people of the Marshall Islands reconstruct their capital.