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NEWS | Jan. 17, 2013

437th Airlift Wing continues legacy of mobility airlift

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the men and women of the 437th Airlift Wing have moved more than 900,000 short tons of cargo and more than 300,000 passengers through JB Charleston - Air Base. The Wing's four Airlift Squadrons play a vital part in its overall success.

"Our mission is all aspects of mobility airlift," said Capt. Sven Lundberg, 16th Airlift Squadron aircraft commander. "Today, it could be flying supplies into Southeast Asia, tomorrow it could be flying relief support on an humanitarian mission and the day after that, one of our aircrews may be conducting a aeromedical evacuation of a fallen hero."

The flexibility of capabilities has evolved with the times. Today, a pilot is capable of diverting an aircraft to pick supplies up at one location, to picking up a wounded warrior on the battlefield. This international communication between the airlift squadrons is continuously on the front lines of today's mission.

"For me, the mission is simple," said Lundberg. "It's my job to move the supplies and people to where they need to be, and to bring the good guys back home."

Another imperative mission carried out by the airlift squadrons are the dignified transfers of fallen service members.

"Bringing back fallen heroes is always a solemn experience," said Lundberg. "But we always show the proper respect to honor the fallen and their sacrifice."

With so many operational missions, "busy" is the best way most aircrew members describe the workload at JB Charleston.

According to Lundberg, the aspect of not knowing what the next day will bring is the reason his job is so satisfying. And, although it leaves him fulfilled, it can also be mentally and physically depleting.

"Most flights take off in the evening," said Lundberg. "Having a day to change your body's sleep schedule doesn't always work. We can easily become exhausted. Flying a C-17 isn't the only thing we do. Before taking off we're checking weather conditions over the ocean and on land, attending multiple briefings and filling an entire gauntlet of preparatory work before we even warm up the engines."

Even though the daily operations can be straining, Lundberg is continuously inspired by the aircrew members that serve with him.

"Recently, I flew with a loadmaster that was constantly chipper," said Lundberg. "What I found out later was he had only been home four days in the last four weeks. The significance of the 437th Airlift Wing's impact to mobility airlift is unparalleled. However, the ones that are truly amazing are the Airmen, like that loadmaster, that make the mission happen every day. Not only do they stay positive, but they also sincerely love their job. Without them, none of this would be possible."