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NEWS | Jan. 16, 2007

700 Charleston Airmen deploy; 14 AS returns home safely

By Senior Airman Sam Hymas 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 700 Airmen from Charleston Air Force Base will deploy as part of Air Expeditionary Forces 5 and 6 in the next several weeks on four-month deployments to bases in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Airmen from career fields as diverse as explosive ordnance disposal technicians, air transportation specialists and paralegals are involved in the deployment. They will be filling combat support roles with a significant number serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than 150 of those 700 Airmen are from the 15th Airlift Squadron which deployed Dec. 28. Their deployment marks the third time an entire Charleston C-17 squadron has deployed for an operation.

For this deployment, almost the entire squadron went to a single base and is now flying and managing missions in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 15 AS will be transporting troops and supplies in and out of the Central Command's area of responsibility. They will also fly aeromedical evacuation missions.

The 15 AS replaced the 14th Airlift Squadron, which returned home Jan. 4. During the 14 AS's deployment, they flew more than 3,800 sorties, moved more than 100 million pounds of cargo and delivered more than 120,000 passengers directly to the front lines in support of OIF, OEF and Joint Task Force Horn Of Africa.

More than 50 percent of 125 aircrew members survived insurgent mortar attacks during loading operations in the dangerous Sunni triangle region of Baghdad, Iraq.

Aircrew members from the 14 AS also flew 30 aeromedical evacuation missions, saving the lives, limbs and eyesight of wounded military members. The most spectacular being the record-breaking airlift of a wounded Marine directly from Iraq to Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio in less than 16 hours.

During the deployment, the 14 AS earned 100 Iraqi Campaign Medals, 200 Air Medals, 100 GWOT Expeditionary Medals, 44 Air Force Achievement Medals, 13 Air Force Commendation Medals and four Meritorious Service Medals.