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Airmen deliver strategic aid to Lebanese military

by Capt. Teresa Sullivan
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

5/28/2007 - Beirut, LEBANON (AFPN) -- C-17 Globemaster III crews of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron delivered bullets to Beirut as part of a short notice ammunition re-supply tasking in support of the Lebanese military.

The 816th EAS, a tenant unit of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing based out of Southwest Asia, was given the order to deliver ammunition to the Rafic Harari International Airport in Beirut. The delivery was critical to the Lebanon Armed Forces due to a rise in hostilities this week.

"We're happy to support national security objectives and provide support to the Lebanese military for their effort in fighting terrorism," said Capt. Judd Baker, 816th EAS aircraft commander and a Charlotte N.C., native who flew a 10 hour mission from the evening of May 25 through the morning of May 26. "It's makes perfect sense to me that we would be tasked with this mission. The C-17 is the best instrument for cargo delivery in the military inventory."

Due to the strategic location of the 816th EAS and the versatile range of capabilities, it was an easy fit for the squadron to fulfill the requirement, said the captain.

"We may be flying combat sorties day and night in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can also handle supporting high priority missions like this, especially since we're close by," Captain Baker said of the airlift mission to Beirut. "It's a great feeling to know leadership has the confidence in the C-17 and our aircrews to get the job done."

The crew of eight - one aircrew commander, a pilot, a co-pilot, two loadmasters, one flying crew chief and two security forces Airmen - said they were glad to be a part of this airlift mission.

"This mission is very important because it relates directly to fighting terrorism," said Capt. Jeff Liegl, 816th EAS pilot and a Cleveland, Ohio native. "We've been involved in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom for years now so these missions are second nature to us. This is a high priority - everything we do we treat as a high priority."

The crew began their mission to Lebanon from the 379th AEW. They then flew to another base in Southwest Asia and quickly uploaded about 180 pallets of munitions. Then the cargo and crew made a bee line for their destination in Beirut.

"It's exciting to deliver ammunition in such a short amount of time to someone who needs it," said Staff Sgt. Greg Rada, 816th EAS senior loadmaster from Southbury, Conn. "It's our job to support national interests and this is another way we can contribute."

The squadron flew about 10 sorties over a three-day period to support the re-supply mission to Lebanon, while maintaining support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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