By Capt. Penny Carroll
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Breaking records is becoming routine for the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here, as the C-130J Hercules unit broke their squadron’s monthly airdrop record in March from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which has been in place at the airfield since March 2009, previously set a record of 51 airdrop missions in January. However, two years into their Afghanistan mission, the unit has surpassed that effort by completing 72 airdrops of more than 1.5 million pounds in almost 1100 bundles during a one-month period.
1st Lt. Roger Knobeloch, co-pilot on the record breaking airdrop from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., said of his participation, “It’s rewarding to get up every day and be part of a team supplying the troops outside the wire...it’s pretty cool breaking records as well.”
Excellent maintenance of these cargo aircraft is key to keeping them in the skies, and keeping supplies flowing to soldiers on the ground all over Afghanistan. This C-130 maintenance unit has ensured 255 straight launches, and counting, without having to cancel a mission for maintenance issues.
Master Sgt. Michael Warlick, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flightline expeditor, remarked that teamwork is paramount to the daily maintenance operations at Kandahar. “Making this record was really a whole team concept. Everybody pitched in and did their part. Every single person in this AMU (aircraft maintenance unit) played a vital part, from all of maintenance and all of Ops (operations). Without all these people melding together, we could not have achieved this goal.”
The 772nd EAS is currently comprised of members from 41st Airlift Squadron from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and two squadrons that fall under the 403rd Airlift Wing out of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The 345th Airlift Squadron active-duty component and the 815th Airlift Squadron comprised of Reservists, make up the Air Force’s first C-130J total force integrated unit, which joined together in August 2010. The active associate units share aircraft while working together to both fly and maintain the C-130s, an initiative that leverages the combined resources of the Reserves and active-duty force.
“We feel proud of our job as maintainers, because keeping the aircraft ready helps to save lives on the ground by providing food and supplies that soldiers need outside the wire to keep their missions going,” said Senior Airman Luis Diaz, an electrical and environmental systems apprentice deployed to the 451st EAMXS from Little Rock AFB, Ark. “We all know how important is to keep the airplanes mission ready at all times, so we work very hard at achieving ‘excellence in all we do.’”