October 2, 2016 (by Capt. Korey Fratini) - Airmen from across Bagram gathered together to remember those lost when a C-130J Super Hercules, call-sign Torque 62, crashed on departure from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan one year ago. Six Airmen and five contractors were lost on October 2, 2015.
A mural on the flightline honors those Airmen who lost their lives when Torque 62 crashed one year ago, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, October 2, 2016. [USAF photo by Capt. Korey Fratini]
Six battlefield crosses stood in front of a formation of Airmen from the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. Those crosses represented the six Airmen lost.
The six Airmen who lost their lives when Torque 62 crashed supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel had their names read aloud in a symbolic roll-call. They were Capt. Jordan Pierson, Capt. Jonathan Golden, Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn Johnson-Harris, Senior Airman Nathan Sartain, and Airman 1st Class Kacey Ruiz.
Two of the Airmen that day were from the 455th ESFS Fly Away Security Team. Dedicated to protecting aircrew and the aircraft, Capt. Shawn Chamberlin, 455th ESFS commander, reflected on their mission.
“These Airmen put their lives at risk to protect the aircrew and aircraft,” said Chamberlin. “They understand their charge and they accept that possible fate every time they walk out onto this ramp, they understand what needs to happen and what could potentially happen.”
Every day Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing execute missions in support of the defense of the United States. One year ago was no different.
Col. Jason Bailey, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander reminded everyone in attendance what Torque 62 represented and still represents today.
“In the past year Torque 62 has become much more than a loss to the C-130 community, it has become a symbol of something larger,” said Bailey. “The C-130 is a proud community with a strong heritage. It has been the backbone of tactical airlift for decades and remains so today. It is a community full of quiet professionals who bring airlift, a special brand of airpower to the battlefield and say things like anytime, anywhere. “
In honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, four encased flags were dedicated to those Airmen and the four squadrons they were a part of. The flags were flown on a C-130J mission to honor the fallen on the one year anniversary of the mishap. While deployed to Bagram those lost represented the 774th EAS, 455th ESFS, 39th Airlift Squadron, and the 66th Security Forces Squadron.
Bailey closed by honoring and acknowledging the sacrifice that each of those Airmen made.
“The members of Torque 62 remind us of something incredibly important. It takes a truly special person to raise their right hand and volunteer to serve. In the United States military we swear an oath, inherent in that oath is a pledge of something greater. It’s not a rite of passage, it’s not an agreement, and it’s not just an entry requirement. It is the solemn promise that we will give our lives in the defense of this nation,” said Bailey.
“The airmen, all airmen of Torque 62 serve as an example of what it means to make good on that solemn promise,” said Bailey. “They demonstrated the wiliness to serve their country and to make the ultimate sacrifice when called upon for something greater than themselves. They are heroes, every one.”