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Airmen deploy from 7 Pacific bases

by Maj. Dani Johnson
18th Wing Public Affairs

9/6/2007 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN) -- More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces deployed to several locations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Sept. 2 from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

"Kadena is the staging base for aggregate air into CENTCOM," said Maj. Aaron Booth, the Kadena AB installation deployment officer. 

Aggregate air is contracted aircraft and allows Airmen to deploy straight to the AOR without transiting through commercial airports. 

Aircraft picked Airmen up at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and flew to Kadena AB. Then Airmen from Kadena AB, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, Andersen AFB, Guam, Misawa AB, Japan, and Yokota AB, Japan, boarded aircraft and headed to Southwest Asia to support the war on terrorism.

"Aggregate air saves the military money and is much easier on the Airmen," Major Booth said. "If the Airman has to travel by other means, they have to go the long way through the United States. This way they fly the shortest route direct to the AOR."

For some this was their first deployment.

"This is awesome and I'm ready to go," said Capt. Jason Schmidt, deploying as part of a personnel support to contingency operations team from 15th Mission Support Squadron at Hickam AFB. "It's my first time in nine years and I expect it will be busy, hot and the people will be motivated."

For others, they have been there before.

"It's my second trip to the AOR," said Senior Airman Robert McCall, an 18th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "It's going to be interesting and I have no idea what is in store. I'm going to go with the flow and just see how it goes."

For many, the sacrifices of deploying are visible.

"I'm due in six weeks, so he's going to miss seeing his third child born," said Tech. Sgt. Leenette Joseph with the Erwin Professional Military Education Center of the deployment of her husband, Master Sgt. Robinson Joseph of the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We knew what we signed up for, so this happens sometimes."

Many Airmen and commanders came to the terminal to see their fellow Airmen off.

"I hate to see them go, but it will be an awesome experience and a growing experience. It's what we do," said Col. Terri Reusch, the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander. "There is a part of me that wishes I was going."

More than 55 Airmen from Kadena AB left Sept. 2, the first of three scheduled aggregate air missions out of the base for air and space expeditionary force 9 and 10 rotation. More than 500 from the base are tasked to deploy this rotation.

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