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Face of Defense: Loadmaster Helps War Effort, Provides Humanitarian Aid

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service

SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 10, 2008 – A Fort Mill, S.C., native contributes to the war on terror by transporting cargo -- everything from hand grenades to bottled water -- all over the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Airman 1st Class Joshua Weston secures a pallet of humanitarian supplies on a C-17 Globemaster III to be transported, along with 20 Navy Seabees, to Nairobi, Kenya, from Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, March 30, 2008. Weston is assigned to 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron as a C-17 loadmaster and is deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina M. Styer

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Joshua Weston is serving a four-month deployment as a loadmaster with 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. He is responsible for managing the vast cargo compartment of a C-17 Globemaster III, and his unit transports cargo and passengers that directly facilitate U.S. goals of bringing stability to the region.

“Initially, I joined the Air Force to travel and see the world,” Weston said. So far, the 2006 graduate of Fort Mill High School has achieved that goal. Despite having less than two years of Air Force service, he has accumulated an extensive travel history. He’s part of a crew that has flown missions to more than 10 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany and Kenya.

Senior members of his crew say Weston is making a favorable impression.

“Airman Weston is a new, young loadmaster that brings enthusiasm and new, refreshing perspectives to C-17 operations,” said fellow crew member Capt. Travis Elliott, a C-17 pilot.

The versatility of C-17 operations makes it a popular choice to transport troops, equipment and humanitarian supplies all over the globe. Weston and his fellow crew members displayed that versatility during a mission last month. In the first leg of the mission, the crew delivered ammunition and grenades to coalition troops serving in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Before leaving, the crew uploaded a team of Navy construction specialists and 100,000 pounds of equipment bound for a humanitarian well-drilling project in northeast Kenya.

“It is always extremely rewarding to see our efforts pay off,” he said. “In this case, we were able to supply machinery so that people under drought conditions could receive water, a basic need of life.”

Weston said he has also transported coalition troops, vehicles and ammunition in and out of combat zones.

“I continually see new things taking place in the world,” he said. “If there is a big event in the world, I am always somehow a part of it.”

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones serves with U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs.)

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Related Sites:
U.S. Air Forces Central
C-17 Globemaster III

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