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C-130 airlift reduces ground convoy operations

by 1st Lt. Jon Quinlan
314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/31/2006 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- Sitting high on his stool in the back of a C-130 Hercules, Senior Airman Jon Hall, a 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, scans the ground for airborne threats on an airlift sortie over Iraq.

This duty is one that Airman Hall and many other Airmen, deployed here from the 463rd Airlift Group at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., are doing every day. The airlift missions are flown to help reduce ground-convoy operations here.

On a recent mission, the C-130 and its crew delivered more than 35 passengers and 25 tons of equipment, including helicopter blades, munitions, tires and medical supplies.

"I like the diversity of the mission we get with the C-130," Airman Hall said. "You never fly the same thing twice."

Little Rock Airmen make up most of the 777th stationed here. The Airmen moved here to help increase the amount of cargo moved throughout the region.

With the recent death of two Airmen who were killed on a ground-convoy mission, C-130 crews are reminded of the importance of what they do.

"I feel like were doing more here," said Capt. Delvin Genenbacher, a C-130 pilot deployed from the 61st Airlift Squadron. "We are doing what the C-130 was made for ... intratheatre airlift."

This mission consisted of seven stops throughout Iraq. Aircrews never get used to the threat but many said their tactical training prepares them.

"We fly tactically to avoid any threats that may be in the area," the captain said. "We have seen many indications that our plane has been shot at."

Tactical flight operations in a C-130 consist of a quick drop in altitude before landing. The quick descent makes the plane less vulnerable for small arms fire. The C-130s also take off steeply and fly randomly to avoid fire.

Seven hours later the C-130 returns to Balad AB, another mission accomplished for the squadron’s Airmen who every day move people and equipment to support the warfighter.

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