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    Afghan An-32’s special Veteran’s Day mission

    Afghan An-32’s special Veteran’s Day mission

    Photo By Capt. Robert Leese | Members of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan/538th Air Expeditionary Advisory...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Robert Leese 

    438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    KABUL, Afghanistan - On this Veteran’s Day, members of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan/538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and the Afghan Air Force flew American flags over Afghanistan to be presented to families and organizations that support U.S. troops in the AOR.

    The idea to fly the flags and give them to a worthy organization or individual was a joint decision of the An-32 advisors, Lt. Col. Jon Fullerton, Lt. Col. Doug Magoffin, Maj. Jeff Peterson and Master Sgt. Jay Stoneback. Each individual and organization will receive a certificate accompanying an American flag flown on the An-32 aircraft.

    Maj. Jeffrey S. Peterson, 538th AEAS AN-32 instructor pilot, explained “It is a day to honor the U.S. service members by flying the flags over Afghanistan. This is a tradition that Americans have been doing for decades...we wanted to fly the flags on an AN-32 because it’s our assigned aircraft, and it’s retiring.”

    Peterson will be sending multiple flags to the schools that his four children go to in Northfield, Minn. He originally contacted the principles of Sibley Elementary School, Northfield Middle School, and Northfield High School to ask if they would be interested in having a flag flown, and before he knew it, all six schools in Northfield were sending him flags.

    “I told them about our plan to fly some flags on Veteran’s Day, and I mentioned that I have kids in all three of their schools. So I offered up the opportunity for them to send their American flags. Mr. Scott Sannes, principle of Sibley Elementary, responded that they had a principles meeting and talked about it... and all six schools in Northfield wanted to participate. The American Legion Post 84 heard about this effort through Mr. Sannes and offered to buy new flags for them. And now that we’ve flown them over Kabul and Bagram, I will mail them back with accompanying certificates, and the schools plan to raise all six at the same time in a ceremony sponsored by the American Legion," said Peterson.

    The challenge was to get the flags on the retiring An-32 aircraft. The aircraft is going away faster than the advisors originally thought. When the Veteran’s Day plan was originally conceived there were no issues with scheduling a flight since the AN-32 advisors were conducting six local training sorties every week. But recently the training flights were cancelled as more aircraft have retired, significantly reducing the opportunity for this special mission to take place.

    However, even with the diminished opportunities to fly, the Afghan Air Force allowed this flight due to the honorable nature of the mission.

    With the retirement of the last An-32 aircraft in June 2011, the AAF will see the end of an era. Many of the pilots will be retrained with those who can speak English fluently transferring to the C-27A Spartan aircraft. The NATC-A advisors are interviewing the An-32 aircrew to help them with their follow-on assignment after the An-32 retires.

    Lt. Col. C. Mike Smith, 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron Commander explained, “The transition process for AAF aircrew leaving the An-32 is a difficult process. We are trying to weigh the capabilities of each aircrew member with their age and their English speaking skills. Those individuals that we are selecting to transition into the C-27 represent the best of that airframe as looked at for long-term participation in AAF aviation.”

    Hopefully, the AAF and the new C-27s will continue the tradition of flying flags for those deserving of the honor.



    Date Taken: 11.11.2010
    Date Posted: 11.13.2010 01:33
    Story ID: 60047

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