Airmen Attain Combat Milestone in Afghanistan
By Air Force Capt. David Faggard
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 10, 2009 Airmen here hit a major milestone July 8 when they completed their 2,000th combat mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, right, assists Air Force Staff Sgt. Andres Jaramillo in securing bolts during a function check on the EC-130 Compass Call at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 6, 2009. Both are members of the 41st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit and are deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Felicia Juenke
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
An EC-130H Compass Call crew assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron and deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., flew the milestone mission, providing direct support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.
The mission was like any other, said Air Force Capt. Kelly Weber, a Compass Call pilot from Fort Worth, Texas.
"It was a very rewarding mission," he said, noting he couldn’t discuss details due to operational security. Often called a "Super-E" model, some of the EC-130H aircraft are more than 40 years old. The aircraft's electronics disrupt enemy command and control, and often are used to attack hostile communications.
"We're a small community with a small inventory of aircraft," said Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Kirschman, the squadron commander. "We're 100 percent committed to the mission, and this couldn't get done without our great maintainers on the ground."
None of the three crewmembers discussing the mission was in the Air Force on Sept. 11, 2001, and they weren't even aware it was such a monumental flight.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley House, from Portsmouth, Va., said the mission was almost routine, as airmen from around the world are in the skies and on the ground supporting operations here.
The seven-hour mission was "very rewarding," said Air Force 1st Lt. Lori Brophy, an electronic warfare officer from Raymond, Neb. "[The crewmembers are] very professional, and know what capabilities we bring to the fight."
(Air Force Capt. David Faggard serves in the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs office.)