76th Airlift Squadron returns from deployments

Capt. Berrett Doman
76th Airlift Squadron

***image1***Thirteen members of the 76th Airlift Squadron returned from Central Command deployments this week. The unit deployed one C-21 and one C-20 in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom near the end of February and flew numerous combat support missions in Southwest Asia. In addition, the 76th AS deployed sufficient aircrews to keep the aircraft flying 24 hours a day if necessary.
The aircrews participated in combat missions supporting forward-based CENTCOM and national leadership into military airfields as well as busy international airports. “Our crews completed all the same requirements as any other combat crew,” said Lt. Col. Mark McLean, commander of the 76th AS. “They reviewed special instructions for three different regions, reviewed intel and threat reports, flew special tactical arrivals and departures, prepared escape and evasion plans and all the other aspects of a combat mission.”
Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Nathan Phillips said flying over Iraq wasn’t that hard. “In Iraq they have American controllers. It was nice working with them and that made it pretty easy.”
Instructor pilot and squadron tactician Capt. Dan Crump summed up the feeling of many of the crewmembers. “The base down there is 24/7, OPS never stops… there’s always something going on. I feel like we were doing our part for the war effort. It was rewarding as far as helping out in the efforts going on in the theater.”
Both C-20 and C-21 aircraft were deployed last February when in-place Navy aircraft required extensive maintenance. The Department of Defense directed U.S. Air Forces in Europe to deploy in their stead for 60 days as a relief measure. While 76th aircraft have frequently transited many of CENTCOM locations before, this was the first forward-based deployment since Operation Desert Storm for USAFE operational support aircraft.
“The 76th was designed as a generate in place squadron,” said Lieutenant Colonel McLean. “We were in the midst of posturing the squadron to play a part of future Air Expeditionary Force rotations when the call to deploy came in. Thankfully, the 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 435th Mission Support Squadron went the extra distance to help us complete our deployment plans and move out in relatively short order.”
Additionally, the functional managers from USAFE Operations and Logistics also pitched in and assisted the squadron in deploying two different aircraft to two diverse locations with separate contract maintenance packages for each. Planners from the USAFE Air Mobility Operations Control Center coordinated diplomatic clearances for aircraft deployments and swap outs. The 86th Operational Support Squadron tactics members printed volumes of instructions for deploying aircrews and provided the necessary intel and high risk capture training necessary for the operation.
“Overall this was a successful deployment because of the outstanding team work displayed by the various units on base. We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Lieutenant Colonel McLean. “This was a great experience for the crews,” he said. “We learned a lot from it in terms of deployments and we’re ready to play our part in future AEF rotations.”