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    Leaving on a jet plane: Air Force welcomes service members to the flightline home

    Leaving on a jet plane: Air Force welcomes service members to the flightline home

    Photo By Spc. Anthony Zane | A pallet of luggage is loaded onto a C-130 aircraft at Ali Air Base just before take...... read more read more

    CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, IRAQ

    11.22.2011

    Story by Spc. Anthony Zane 

    362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Service members in Iraq on their way home from deployment have bags packed, flights booked, and high spirits as they prepare to go home and reunite with their loved ones.

    Before flying out of country, all military personnel and civilian contractors are processed through the air terminal on Contingency Operating Base Adder that is managed by the 407th Expeditionary Support Squadron stationed at Ali Air Base in Tallil, Iraq.

    “Our mission here at Tallil is to move the passengers and cargo from here, in direct support of the drawdown… from Iraq,” said Master Sgt. Jessica Coombs, aerial port flight chief, 407th ESS, from Rochester Hills, Mich.

    While many troops have already left Iraq, the thousands remaining are slated to leave by the end of the year.

    “Watching everybody leave and all their equipment leave, and watching the base just basically become empty is very rewarding in the sense that the mission is being accomplished,” said Coombs.
    “We are turning over to the Iraqi air force and Iraqi people what they need in order to sustain within their own country, by themselves, for themselves, and we as Americans are doing a great service for this theater,” she said.

    The 407th ESS has proven that they are just as efficient with their roles on the ground as they are in the air.

    Once roll call is finished, we build three to five baggage pallets for large troop movements, get them all built up, strapped down and loaded onto the planes, said Airman 1st Class Nicholas Bernard, passenger service agent, 407th ESS, from Milwaukee, Wis.

    “We have to weigh each baggage pallet so that the crews can have an accurate baggage weight to level the aircraft, to keep it level in the air for safety and flight,” said Bernard.

    Customers that come through Ali Air Base include military personnel, civilian contractors and foreign nationals.

    “Every baggage pallet we build is one baggage pallet closer for us to get out of here and everyone to be going home,” said Bernard.

    But for the members of the 407th ESS the mission goes beyond processing troops and their equipment.

    “For most of us, our personal mission is to get all the Soldiers home to their families for Christmas,” said Bernard. “It’s a big deal for a lot of us. It’s very rewarding and the rest of us, we’re just happy to be out of Iraq, cleaning the place out, packing up and going home.”

    “Between the start when we got here, and now, there’s a huge drive-up in morale,” said Bernard.

    The heightened morale of service members is motivating for troops as they anticipate a safe return stateside.

    “It’s been amazing because we moved a lot of passengers and a lot of cargo, either redistributing it through the theater or back to home station in the States, which is what we really like to see because people are going home,” said Coombs.

    With every flight leaving Ali Air Base, the exit of U.S. forces from Iraq and the conclusion of Operation New Dawn is becoming a reality, and many more service members will be back home with their families for the holidays.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.22.2011
    Date Posted: 11.22.2011 02:56
    Story ID: 80373
    Location: CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, IQ 

    Web Views: 356
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN