July 5, 2016 (by MSgt. Anika K. Jones) - Imagine for a moment, our ground and coalition forces in the throes of battle. Imagine them in less than desirable conditions in the middle of nowhere. Now imagine yourself in their boots and not having the vital supplies to survive and sustain that fight.
USAF pilots from the Alaska ANG's 144th AS prepare to take off in a C-130 Hercules at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on June 17, 2016. The transport mission was one of the last combat missions during the 144th AS's final C-130 deployment. [USAF photo by SSgt. Douglas Ellis]
The 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have two different missions, yet work together every day to ensure the single mission of the C-130 Hercules can equip and prepare our forces to stay in the fight another day.
“The professionalism of total-force Airmen,” said Maj. Kenneth Jensen, 386 EAMXS maintenance operations officer. “It’s amazing to watch members of many Air National Guard units, the active duty, Reserve and contractors come together to seamlessly achieve the mission every day.”
This rotation the Alaska and Ohio Air National Guard have been filling the task for the 737 EAS. This could possibly be Alaska’s last C-130 deployment as they transition to the C-17 Globemasters, while this is Ohio’s first deployment back with the C-130H after transitioning to the C-27J Spartan for a short stint.
“They have represented their states and the Air National Guard wonderfully. It is difficult for guard members to leave their full-time civilian jobs to deploy, but they always do their duty with no complaints,” said Lt. Col. Michael Cummings, 737 EAS commander. “Their dedication to the mission, their professionalism and their sacrifice has made me extremely proud of these people.”
Members of the 737 EAS and 386 EAMXS are faced with such challenges as older aircraft, extreme environmental conditions with temperatures reaching the 140s and the separation from their loved ones.
“I’m most proud of our team for enduring the challenges that come with operating in a deployed location,” said Jensen.
The maintenance crews overcome these challenges to make sure the aircrews have safe and working aircraft to carry out the air tasking orders. Whether it’s an all-weather airdrop that has an accuracy of 15 yards within target from an altitude of 18,000 feet, a tactical assault landing on unimproved fields or an endurance of enemy fire to get the equipment and supplies to ground forces, these two units work together to get the mission accomplished.
Cummings said they would see severe degradation to the mission of defeating Daesh without C-130H operations, maintenance and support personnel.
Support from the 737 AES and 386 AMXS has and will continue to play a crucial part in delivering decisive airpower and securing basic freedoms. Today that means supporting ground forces in the fight to protect those living under the constant threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and whatever tomorrow brings.