News: End of the Runway
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – In the darkness surrounding Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, a C-27J Spartan aircraft assigned to 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron shuts down its engines after completing its last scheduled flight, June 13.
The C-27J flew missions in direct support of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. 702nd EAS performed cargo and passenger movement in air to land and airdrop missions. During its last mission, it moved more than 10 tons of cargo and 30 passengers.
“I love flying the C-27J,” said Capt. Chris Meyer, a pilot with the 702nd EAS, originally from Joppatowne, Md. “I enjoy the mission for this aircraft. I enjoyed both the challenges and satisfaction the tactical airlift mission provides. We get people where they need to go and bring supplies to those who need them the most.”
The 702 EAS was a direct support unit to the 25th CAB. With the 25th CAB having control of the C-27Js, it allowed for the turn-around time for receiving a mission to execution from a couple days to 24 hours or less. The C-27J was selected as the joint cargo aircraft for the U.S. military. It was designed to eventually replace the Short C-23 Sherpa, Beechcraft C-12 Huron and Fairchild C-26 Metroliners in the Army National Guard airlift groups or airlift wings losing C-130s.
“I like the mission here,” said Tech. Sgt. Mary Watkins, a loadmaster with 702 EAS, originally from Baltimore, Md. “My favorite type of the missions we performed was the urban airdrop resupply. Sometimes we could not deliver the packages due to weather, but when we did, it was very rewarding.”
On June 18, a couple days after the final scheduled mission flight, the 702nd EAS cased its colors during the unit’s deactivation ceremony. Since the unit started flying missions in August 2011, they flew a total of more than 550 missions across 2,300 flight hours where they performed 90 air drops, moved approximately 1,400 tons of cargo and transported 25,000 personnel.
With the return of the C-27J aircraft home, C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 772nd EAS were chosen to carry on the mission of the 702nd. The C-130J is similar to the C-27J with the upgraded engines and avionics.
“The C-130J is like a bulldozer; we are versatile and can move a lot of stuff, but our size limits where we can go,” said Capt. Ben Blanchet, a pilot with the 772nd EAS, originally from Biloxi, Miss. “The C-27J is like a bobcat; it is smaller, does the same stuff we do and can land at smaller airstrips.”
With taking over the C-27J mission, the C-130J is continuing the unyielding support to bring the supplies to those in need.
“We do the same missions as the C-27J and also distinguished visitor transportation, air medical evacuation, and handle combat airdrops,” Blanchet said. “We are a Total Force Integration unit which is the Air Force’s way of combining people with assets and resources. With the increased amount of people that have access to the aircraft, the unit’s capability has increased.”
With a smooth transition from the C-27J to the C-130J aircraft, the 25th CAB will be in partnership with the U.S. Air Force continuing to fly for the troops.
Date Posted:06.20.2012 08:43
Location:KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AF
Hometown:BALTIMORE, MD, US
Hometown:BILOXI, MS, US
Hometown:JOPPA, MD, US
Hometown:LITTLE ROCK, AR, US
Hometown:MILWAUKEE, WI, US
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