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End of the Runway

June 20, 2012

By Sgt. Daniel Schroeder

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - In the darkness surrounding Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, a C-27J Spartan aircraft assigned to 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron shuts down its engines after completing its last scheduled flight, June 13.

The C-27J flew missions in direct support of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. 702nd EAS performed cargo and passenger movement in air to land and airdrop missions. During its last mission, it moved more than 10 tons of cargo and 30 passengers.

"I love flying the C-27J," said Capt. Chris Meyer, a pilot with the 702nd EAS, originally from Joppatowne, Md. "I enjoy the mission for this aircraft. I enjoyed both the challenges and satisfaction the tactical airlift mission provides. We get people where they need to go and bring supplies to those who need them the most."

The 702 EAS was a direct support unit to the 25th CAB. With the 25th CAB having control of the C-27Js, it allowed for the turn-around time for receiving a mission to execution from a couple days to 24 hours or less. The C-27J was selected as the joint cargo aircraft for the U.S. military. It was designed to eventually replace the Short C-23 Sherpa, Beechcraft C-12 Huron and Fairchild C-26 Metroliners in the Army National Guard airlift groups or airlift wings losing C-130s.

"I like the mission here," said Tech. Sgt. Mary Watkins, a loadmaster with 702 EAS, originally from Baltimore, Md. "My favorite type of the missions we performed was the urban airdrop resupply. Sometimes we could not deliver the packages due to weather, but when we did, it was very rewarding."

On June 18, a couple days after the final scheduled mission flight, the 702nd EAS cased its colors during the unit.

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