News: South Dakota native deploys, keeps ground troops supplied from sky
Story by Staff Sgt. Sara Keller
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Capt. Ryan Halligan, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot and aircraft commander with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, recently deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia from the 15th Airlift Squadron out of Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
Halligan, a native of Draper, S.D., deployed to the 816th EAS, a C-17 flying squadron, and joined a group of airmen ranging in specialties from loadmasters, to navigators to fellow pilots. These airmen are what keeps this highly functional squadron operating.
They work as a team flying thousands of miles to perform an array of missions around their assigned area of responsibility.
Equipped with C-17s, the 816th EAS transport and support coalition forces engaging in combat operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and they also operate in the Horn of Africa.
The squadron’s mission is to provide strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the area of responsibility.
Halligan and members of his team fly missions several times a week, but some of them like certain missions more than others.
“My favorite part of my mission while deployed is the airdrops,” said Halligan. “It’s more challenging than just flying cargo back and forth. Plus we get to deliver cargo and supply to troops that really need it.”
An airdrop mission consists of loading supplies like food and fuel onto a plane and then once airborne, releasing it from the back of the aircraft over remote forward operating bases in the area of responsibility. The supplies are packaged into separate pallets and adorned with a parachute. As the pallet falls from the aircraft, the parachute is released and able to land safely in its projected location. Once on the ground, local coalition forces will recover the supplies on the ground.
This is Halligan’s fifth deployment and he has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for nine years.