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Air Force assists in Darfur troop movement

by Capt. Erin Dorrance
786th Air Expeditionary Squadron Public Affairs

10/22/2007 - KIGALI, Rwanda (AFPN) -- Airmen from the 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron, along with two C-17 Globemaster IIIs and aircrews from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., provided airlift for 400 Rwandan soldiers Oct. 20 who are supporting the African Union peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.

This is the seventh deployment in which Airmen have assisted in rotating Rwandan troops in and out of Darfur.

"We are happy to be able to assist the African Union's efforts in Darfur," said Lt. Col. Kevin Therrien, the 786th AES commander. "My incredible team of professional Airmen has been dedicated to this mission since 2004."

As the Rwandan military band played, soldiers marched with rifles onto the C-17 on their way to Darfur.

"We feel happy to relieve the situation in Darfur," said Rwandan Lt. Col. Ludovick Mugisha, who noted that his last name means "good luck" in Kenyar-Rwandan. "My troops are trained and ready to fight."

The band once again played in the afternoon as the C-17s returned with Rwandan soldiers coming home after their eight-month deployment in Darfur.

"I am very happy to see my family and enjoy my country," said Rwandan Lt. Népo Mulindabyuma, who was returning home to his wife and three children.

The returning soldiers were dismissed only after the Rwandan Chief of General Staff Gen. James Kabarebe thanked them for their service and participated in a celebratory traditional dance with his soldiers.

The 786th AES will continue to support the multiday mission based out of the Kigali International Airport in Rwanda. They expect to assist in transporting approximately 2,200 Rwandan troops and heavy equipment in and out of the Darfur region. 

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