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NEWS | April 6, 2016

Charleston aircrew plays role in ordered departure

By Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

One of the first aircrews involved in airlifting more than 60 military dependents from Turkey to Baltimore returned to Joint Base Charleston , April 1, 2016 following an ordered departure from the area due to security concerns in the region.

The aircrew was comprised of members from the 14th and 15th Airlift Squadrons and the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

While on crew-rest, in Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, the aircrew was alerted of their participation in the ordered departure.

"At first we didn't know when it was going to begin because we had just finished another mission and were getting ready to depart the country," said Capt. Randy Semrau, a 14th AS pilot. "This is the first mission of its kind that I have been a part of. 
"I've never had to fly this many children and pets before. Most of our missions involve moving cargo and service members. We had to take on different roles to ensure we were catering to the needs of the families."

The first flight out of Turkey was to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where the Airmen flew more than 130 spouses, children and pets aboard a C-17 Globemaster III.
According to Semrau, some of the families stayed in Germany but others chose to return stateside.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Akers, a 16th AS loadmaster, added that although the families were upset they were leaving their homes and spouses behind, they felt they were in good hands.

"Missions like this really show how much weight military families bear," Akers said. "It's good to know the Air Force and organizations like the USO played a giant role in helping the families set up lodging and other accommodations. Service members care the most about their families and their safety is paramount."

Aboard the C-17, Akers was in-charge of all passenger safety, including 30 pets.

"I'm used to flying with military working dogs, which are a little more accustomed to flying." Akers said. "You have to treat each pet as a passenger and we ensured they were comfortable as well."

Both Akers and Semrau described the mission as an excellent  example of teamwork; servicemembers committed to taking care of the people that mean the most to them.

"It's very humbling to be a part of a mission where there were many moving parts and everyone came together to make the mission a success." Akers said.