|Unit Helps Deploy French Forces to Afghanistan |
Unit Helps Deploy French Forces to Afghanistan
By Capt. David L. Englin,16th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.
Aviano Air Base, Italy -- (AFPN) December 27, 2001 -- Aerial port specialists from a unit in the 16th Air Expeditionary Wing based in Istres, France, loaded French equipment and troops onto C-17 Globemaster III transport jets bound for Afghanistan between Dec. 17 and Dec. 22.
Deployed to the 16th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron at Istres, France, Senior Airman Justin D. Kessler, an aircraft cargo specialist from the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., directs a French armored personnel carrier onto a C-17 Globemaster III. On Dec. 22, Kessler and three other Charleston airmen augmented aerial port specialists from the 16th Air Expeditionary Wing who loaded French troops and heavy equipment onto several C-17s bound for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Photo by Master Sgt. Keith Reed
Typically, the 16th AEW units based at Istres perform air-to-air refueling missions for NATO aircraft flying over the Balkans in support of operations Joint Forge and Joint Guardian. However, when Operation Enduring Freedom required American C-17s to transport French troops and equipment, the 16th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, with airmen who specialize in loading heavy aircraft, was there to lend a hand.
Airmen from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., are deployed to Istres to augment the air transport operations specialists already there. Together they loaded more than 1,000 tons of French equipment over several days, making the equipment safe for flight, securing the equipment into the aircraft, and performing all of the necessary calculations to ensure safe delivery.
"It feels good to be involved in Operation Enduring Freedom," said Tech. Sgt. Richard B. Rowcliffe, noncommissioned officer in charge of air transport operations for the 16th EABS. "If I had my choice, I’d be even farther forward."
Rowcliffe, who was a Marine field artillery specialist during Operation Desert Storm, is now an Air Force reservist who spends more than 250 days a year on active duty. He is deployed to the 16th EABS from the 27th Aerial Port Squadron at Minneapolis.
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Dickens, an air transport operations specialist with the 16th EABS, said that dealing with French equipment was slightly different, but nothing they could not handle.
"We train to do this all the time," Dickens said. "We came here to do the job, and that’s just what we’re going to do."
Dickens’ home station is the 69th Aerial Port Squadron at Andrews AFB, Md. He is self-employed and has served more than 16 years in the Air Force Reserve.
"This is another example of the total force of active-duty, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard airmen in action," said Col. Terry L. New, commander of the 16th AEW. "Whether securing the skies over the Balkans or executing the war against terrorism, we’re ready for whatever our country asks of us."