JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Airmen assigned to the14th Airlift Squadron, known as the 'Pelicans,' said goodbye to friends and family June 22 and 24 as they boarded C-17s at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, bound for two undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia.
More than 120 Airmen from the 14 AS deployed last week for approximately 120 days and will replace the 10th Airlift Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and the 3rd Airlift Squadron from Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Deployed as the 816th Expeditionary AS, the Pelicans will provide full-spectrum C-17 airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation support of 'Operation Enduring Freedom,' 'Operation New Dawn' and Combined Joint Task Force - 'Horn of Africa' areas of responsibility.
"The squadron is deploying at a pivotal time, and the Pelicans are excited to contribute to the strategic objectives recently outlined by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said Lt. Col. Anthony Carr, 14 AS commander.
"Given the President's recent announcement of troop redeployments, we know that those troopers will make their way home via the global mobility system and the squadron will play a key role at a key time," he said.
Despite the many challenges to come, Colonel Carr has thoroughly prepared his Airmen to handle any situation.
"Preparation for the deployment was a challenge and one that brought out the best in a high-caliber group of people," Colonel Carr said. "We moved up 60 days from our original rotation date and this meant re-examining everything from leave and upgrade training to currency and continuation training.
"The challenge was to get our people ready on a compressed timeline for a tough mission ... and they really stepped up and provided the initiative, planning and determination to make this happen without many stumbles."
For some, the most difficult part of the deployment is leaving family and friends behind.
"Our preparation also considered the physical, mental and emotional readiness of the Airmen and their families," Colonel Carr said. "We drew heavily on the Airman and Family Readiness Center in getting our people prepared and involved spouses and significant others along the way."
Colonel Carr said this deployment coincides with the 71st anniversary of the Pelicans, and he couldn't be more excited about his team.
"I'm extremely proud of these Airmen and the professionalism they've shown in preparing for this deployment," he said. "The squadron has always been there when the nation has needed rapid global mobility through the air. I could not be more thrilled that these Airmen will be continuing that tradition for the next 120 days when the nation needs them most.
"We will all miss our home and our families, but service in our Air Force doesn't get any more rewarding than this."
(Trisha Gallaway contributed to this story.)