NEWS | March 8, 2012

15th Airlift Squadron returns home

By Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

More than 130 Airmen from the 15th Airlift Squadron, 437th Airlift Wing returned home from a 120-day deployment to Southwest Asia when their aircraft touched down at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base March 6.

"Our squadron did a fantastic job during the deployment and it is such a relief to have everyone back safe and sound," said Lt. Col. Rebecca Sonkiss, 15th AS commanding officer. "It still amazes me to hear how our families supported us from home, letting our Airmen safely execute the mission downrange".

Family members eagerly anticipated the moment of being reunited with their loved ones as they watched the aircraft taxi to the Passenger Terminal.

"It feels great to be welcomed home as a whole group. Usually I deploy by myself", said Master Sgt. Jadirra Wells, 15th AS first sergeant. "While still on the plane I got really excited because I could see my youngest child moving to the front of the crowd, following his brother and my loving husband."

"I was so excited I didn't sleep all night," said Gail Miller wife of Ret. Army Col. Robert Miller. Miller and her husband were at the Passenger Terminal to welcome Staff Sgt. Danny South, a 15th AS loadmaster whose pregnant wife couldn't make it to the homecoming.
 
"Homecomings have changed so much since Vietnam," said Miller. "Today, the public welcomes the service members home with open arms and smiles."

While supporting flying operations with the C-17 Globemaster III, the 15th AS Airmen flew nearly 2,300 sorties and logged almost 6,500 combat flying hours.

The men and women comprising the deployment team also performed 20 Aeromedical Evacuation Missions, transporting 39 patients.

They were also instrumental in transporting 22,300 service members and distinguished visitors throughout the combat theater.

While deployed, the 15th AS served under the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The 816th EAS is responsible for airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuations, all of which directly support the combatant commander.

Its sister unit, the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, operates out of several detachments throughout Eurasia and the Middle East. Since 2006, Charleston airlift squadrons have traditionally deployed as the 816th EAS.

"The sacrifices that have been made are steady, constant and very demanding, not only at JB-Charleston and the airlift community, but also for the families," said Sonkiss. "Joint Base Charleston has been supporting this deployment cycle for six years and we will continue supporting operations overseas and the warfighters downrange. I could not be any prouder of my Airmen and their families."