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C-17 missions play vital role in war on terrorism

by Army Sgt. Catherine Talento
Air Force Print News

3/21/2007 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNEWS)  -- Sitting on the tarmac here, the "Spirit of Go for Broke," a C-17 Globemaster III from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, looks like any other of its kind.

Large, grey, boxy, with expansive wings ending in a curved wingtip, this C-17 is one of eight aircraft jointly maintained and operated by both active duty and Hawaii Air National Guard Airmen at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Like others in Hickam's fleet, the C-17 has a vital mission supporting the war on terrorism.

"We got an opportunity ... a mission ... a keeper mission coming all the way out of Hickam Air Force Base all the way into the AOR," said Master Sgt. Mike Cumberland, a loadmaster assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron. "It's a great opportunity to show our reach, our global mobility reach and show Hickam Air Force Base can meet any challenges it is thrown." 

"Go for Broke's" mission actually began six hours and several thousand miles earlier when "Go for Broke", also known as Reach 5152, after its tail number, took off over the tip of Oahu and turned sharply for the U.S. mainland. 

Leaving the Hawaiian sunshine and chasing the darkness, Reach 5152 touched down in Colorado in the early morning hours, in weather 83 degrees less than when they left. 

Neither the late hour nor the 5 degree outside temperature deters 5152's crew as they begin onloading the first of two shipment of cargo bound for northern Iraq.

"It helps the mission launch sequence. We'd rather get what we can get loaded at the end of the day rather than the beginning of the day," Sergeant Cumberland said. "Our on-time departure is more important than staying at the plane a little bit longer and loading up what we can, we would rather the launch sequence go correct." 

The next day's sequencing is also incumbent on 5152 taking off on schedule, Sergeant Cumberland said.

"We also have a mid-air refueling scheduled for tomorrow so it is very important that we meet our timetable so that we are able to meet up with the tanker at the right time." 

The next day Reach 5152 lifts off and heads out over the Colorado mountains bound for its midair refueling over Canada and then onto the remainder of its 10-and-a-half hour flight to Germany. 

Down below, troops lay out on the plane's deck settling in for the flight. In Germany, Reach 5152 will make one more crew stop before pushing into Iraq and beginning the first of two missions -- the first to Mosul, the second to Baghdad.

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