C-130 teams bring warfighters home safely

Lt. Col. David Uselman
86th Operations Group

***image1***When I pack my bags for another deployment, it’s always difficult to leave my wife and girls for four months, but there’s a part of me that is ready to go.

The motivation doesn’t come from the sandstorms that leave grit in the teeth like the dentist’s fluoride treatment: it comes from being part of an incredible Air Force team making the mission happen.

Nothing is more important to an operation’s success than the people. From the support team to the maintainers to the aircrews, every person in the chain is part of a choreographed ballet driving mission success.

Every step of the way they focus on getting the job done with a jeweler’s precision in austere conditions. Most summer days hover around 120 degrees with winds gusting 20 to 30 miles per hour. There are no weekends or holidays off: it’s a 24/7 operation. 

We are all subordinate to the goal of providing combat tactical airlift. In so doing, the C-130 has found its perfect niche; critical short-hop combat missions that airlift troops and cargo in and out of the Iraqi theater of operations.

In discussions with the theater’s Army ground liaison officer, he said as far as the Army was concerned, the Air Force could get rid of every asset except the C-130. Naive? Yes, but the attitude nonetheless illustrates the importance of the tactical airlift role. 

Though the conditions are harsh, these customers don’t mind. For them, the propeller noise means a ticket to freedom.

The ride isn’t quite the standard of a commercial airliner; the cargo compartment is comparable to the inside of an aluminum can lying on the floor of Death Valley. There are no complementary peanuts or sodas – just a dusty seat to their destination. Most buckle in, don’t complain and usually fall fast asleep till they reach their destination. We take them into the fight and bring them home.

Each flight means one less perilous bus ride for a bunch of great Marines and Soldiers, and the C-130 community is making it happen.

Wherever one fits in the spectrum – whether working critical  staff issues, security forces providing base protection, turning a wrench or flying the line – your impact is immeasurable as it culminates in a capability that airlifts more troops and cargo than the entire China-Burma-India Hump and Berlin airlift.

Be proud of your accomplishments and the part you play. In your daily grind you may not see it, but it is imperative to the C-130’s mission success.