***image1***The 37th Airlift Squadron welcomed home about 30 members of the squadron last week. At the same time, 25 members deployed to maintain the squadron’s deployment rotation at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.
The squadron has supported personnel and aircraft for four-month C-130 rotations since August 2004 and is an integral part of the 386th AEW’s mission to include resupplying forward-deployed troops, rotating troops in and out of the theater and aeromedical evacuations.
“The 37th AS warfighters are phenomenal at what they do,” said Lt. Col. Bill Ward, 37th AS commander. “Our aircrews spend anywhere from four to six months deployed each year supporting the War on Terrorism.”
***image2***The 37th AS, which has 198 personnel assigned, is one of the few squadrons that deploys on constant rotations and is not relieved by another unit. However, the deployments, which soared as high as one third of the entire squadron being deployed at one time, have decreased, said 1st Lt. Jon Provens, 37th AS pilot and historian.
Currently the Iraqi 23rd Squadron operates three C-130Es and flies two thirds of their inventory each day to help fill C-130 taskings throughout the country, said Capt. Jeremy Smith, 37th AS navigator, who deployed to train Iraqi C-130 navigators in 2005. Additionally, other state-side C-130 units maintain deployment rotations to share the workload.
In 2005, the 37th AS members assigned to air expeditionary wings flew more than 3,600 hours carrying 29,744 passengers and 4,868 tons of cargo in and out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, said 1st Lt. Robin Cadrow, 37th AS pilot and executive officer.
***image3***The deployments take a toll not only on active-duty members but on their families. For this reason, 37th AS homecomings are special events to those returning from the desert and for the excited family members who stand on the tarmac awaiting their arrival.
“The highlight of my deployment was receiving sonogram pictures from my wife,” said Capt. James Hudson, 37th AS, who returned from his deployment April 13.
Captain Hudson was greeted by his six-month pregnant wife, Jill. The couple planned to spend Captain Hudson’s two weeks of reintegration time traveling and spending as much time together as possible.