By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A lot of stray cats came home last week when Airmen from the 41st Airlift Squadron Black Cats here redeployed. The redeployment was a special occasion because it marked the first time in the squadron’s history that most of their aircraft and personnel were home.
“This is the first time we won’t have our aircraft and aircrew in the desert flying missions, since we stood up as a J-model squadron,” said Lt. Col. James Burgess, 41st AS commander.
The squadron was heavily tasked with deployments because it was until recently the only operational C-130J model squadron in the Air Force. At any given time, they could have roughly 40 or more people deployed, performing Air Force missions throughout the world, said Burgess. The return will have many benefits for the squadron.
“We’ll have more ability to get stateside missions done, more ability to train and we won’t have to worry about shops being manned and flying at the same time,” said Burgess.
Everyone being back together is the most exciting thing for Burgess.
“The fact that the whole unit is together means everyone will be able to focus on the same thing at the same time,” he said. “I’m excited about everyone being here at the same time so we can all get on the same sheet of music.”
Frequent taskings for the 41st meant frequent swapping of personnel, Burgess is hoping the time they’ll have together will not only give them some continuity, but also inspire camaraderie.
“Everyone’s going to be together, and hopefully everyone gets to develop a team mentality before we go out on our next deployment,” he said.
The 41st is able to have this homecoming because Dyess Air Force Base, in Texas, recently stood up an active duty C-130J model squadron, and they’re now shouldering the burden of taskings that was previously all on the 41st. While the deployments and taskings around the world won’t stop, as more J-model squadrons stand up, homecomings like these could be more common.
“For the last four years, these guys have really been the team that’s carried the load while the J model’s been in development,” said Burgess. “It’s a great reward for all the work that they’ve done that now they’ll get to be home. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they’re doing and what they’ve done. I hope they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”