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914th AW’s C-130s say final goodbye to AUAB

A C-130 Hercules taxis down the runway prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. This year marks the last deployment here for the 914th Airlift Wing Airmen and four of its C-130’s as they transition to KC-135 Stratotankers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

A C-130 Hercules taxis down the runway prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. This year marks the last deployment here for the 914th Airlift Wing Airmen and four of its C-130’s as they transition to KC-135 Stratotankers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Taylor Elia, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communication navigation mission systems specialist, fixes a communication cord at the repair reference shop Aug. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 379th EAMXS are responsible for ensuring the aircraft are maintained to exact standards to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Taylor Elia, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communication navigation mission systems specialist, fixes a communication cord at the repair reference shop Aug. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 379th EAMXS are responsible for ensuring the aircraft are maintained to exact standards to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Capt. Jared Cummings, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircraft commander, reviews the crew resource management paperwork prior to conducting a mission on a C-130H Hercules July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Capt. Jared Cummings, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircraft commander, reviews the crew resource management paperwork prior to conducting a mission on a C-130H Hercules July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Airmen from the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit set up the C-130 Hercules prior to cargo and passengers arriving July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The aeromedical equipment team along with the aeromedical evacuation operations team configures the aircraft prior to every mission by setting up the stations and dropping the straps for incoming patients and equipment to be stored during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Airmen from the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit set up the C-130 Hercules prior to cargo and passengers arriving July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The aeromedical equipment team along with the aeromedical evacuation operations team configures the aircraft prior to every mission by setting up the stations and dropping the straps for incoming patients and equipment to be stored during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Master Sgt. Maurice Shivers, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a K-Loader vehicle in preparation of loading equipment into a C-130 Hercules June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. A total of 147 Airmen from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., are deployed here under the 746h EAS and 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit to execute C-130 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Master Sgt. Maurice Shivers, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a K-Loader vehicle in preparation of loading equipment into a C-130 Hercules June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. A total of 147 Airmen from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., are deployed here under the 746h EAS and 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit to execute C-130 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Lesley Blue, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron first sergeant, and 1st Lt. Justin Stein, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical crew director, load a frequency converter onto a C-130 Hercules July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. A frequency converter is used to convert the air conditioning power to household grade power so that in-flight equipment can be charged and used during the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Lesley Blue, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron first sergeant, and 1st Lt. Justin Stein, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical crew director, load a frequency converter onto a C-130 Hercules July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. A frequency converter is used to convert the air conditioning power to household grade power so that in-flight equipment can be charged and used during the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Maj. Bernard Huhane, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical crew director, completes function checks on emergency equipment prior to take off July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The aeromedical evacuation team works with aeromedical evacuation operations team to configure the aircraft prior to every mission by setting up the stations and dropping the straps for incoming patients and equipment to be stored during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Maj. Bernard Huhane, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical crew director, completes function checks on emergency equipment prior to take off July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The aeromedical evacuation team works with aeromedical evacuation operations team to configure the aircraft prior to every mission by setting up the stations and dropping the straps for incoming patients and equipment to be stored during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harkcom, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician, secures medical equipment to the litter prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The equipment package for an aeromedical evacuation mission contains roughly about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of equipment on each mission. The aeromedical evacuation team ensures every piece of equipment is secured prior to take off to prevent items from moving during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harkcom, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician, secures medical equipment to the litter prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The equipment package for an aeromedical evacuation mission contains roughly about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of equipment on each mission. The aeromedical evacuation team ensures every piece of equipment is secured prior to take off to prevent items from moving during the flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harkcom, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician, talks with team members while setting up a C-130 Hercules prior to cargo and passengers arriving July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The equipment package for an aeromedical evacuation mission contains roughly about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of equipment on each mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harkcom, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician, talks with team members while setting up a C-130 Hercules prior to cargo and passengers arriving July 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The equipment package for an aeromedical evacuation mission contains roughly about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of equipment on each mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Master Sgt. Paul Serafini, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a milk stool ramp support platform and straps down a cargo load on a C-130 Hercules prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. C-130 maintainers and operations group from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. have deployed here since 2005 to support the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)
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Master Sgt. Paul Serafini, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a milk stool ramp support platform and straps down a cargo load on a C-130 Hercules prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. C-130 maintainers and operations group from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. have deployed here since 2005 to support the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Lt. Col. C.J. Pfeil, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron co-pilot, briefs the rest of the C-130 Hercules crew prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. They are deployed from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)
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Lt. Col. C.J. Pfeil, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron co-pilot, briefs the rest of the C-130 Hercules crew prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 746th EAS conduct intratheater airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. They are deployed from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Capt. Steve Bichsel, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron navigator, loads the navigation system of a C-130 Hercules prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Bichsel is deployed from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. This year marks the last time the 914th AW Airmen and four of its C-130’s last deploy here as they transition to KC-135 Stratotankers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)
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Capt. Steve Bichsel, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron navigator, loads the navigation system of a C-130 Hercules prior to take off June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Bichsel is deployed from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. This year marks the last time the 914th AW Airmen and four of its C-130’s last deploy here as they transition to KC-135 Stratotankers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

Senior Airman Steven Engels, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-130 Hercules on the flight line June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 379th EAMXS are responsible for ensuring the aircraft are maintained to exact standards to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)
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Senior Airman Steven Engels, 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-130 Hercules on the flight line June 28, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Airmen from the 379th EAMXS are responsible for ensuring the aircraft are maintained to exact standards to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño/Released)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --

After 11 years of deploying here supporting the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, Airmen from the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., will say their goodbyes as they end their rotation and fly out with their C-130 Hercules’ for the final time before they transition to KC-135 Stratotankers.

 

The 914th AW has deployed Airmen and C-130s here since 2005 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have supported thousands of combat missions, delivered thousands of tons of equipment and supplies, and transported thousands of personnel throughout the AOR.

 

“Our primary mission here is tactical airlift. We conduct intratheater airlift, medical evacuations with the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, distinguished visitor missions and airdrop missions throughout the AFCENT AOR,” said Maj. Ben Canetti, 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations. “We put anything and everything that can fit into a C-130 and transport whatever needs to be transported within Afghanistan, Iraq and Horn of Africa.”

 

Approximately 150 Airmen deploy to the 746th EAS and 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit each rotation. Within the last three months they have flown more than 1,000 hours in support of OIR -- four times the rate they conduct missions back at home station.

 

According to Canetti, their mission is unique in many ways to include routinely landing on a 3,000-foot dirt runway to flying only 300 feet off the ground in other areas. The crews can transform the aircraft into whatever is needed to include aeromedical evacuation support.

 

“We can go to places no other aircraft can. We fly low level tactical missions to insert airborne troops and cargo via our airdrop mission”, he added. “We’re very unique in the fact that we handle the intratheater mobility support that large aircraft cannot do. We’ll get a call anytime and anywhere, and we’ll be ready to pick up and send cargo and personnel wherever it is required.”

 

With the multiple demands for airlift support in a single day, Airmen from the 746th EAS and 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work nonstop to meet the needs of the mission despite the hot weather here.

 

“These extreme temperatures are tough not only on the aircraft, but also on our Airmen,” Canetti said. “The entire desert environment doesn’t meddle well with aviation, however our incredible maintenance team continues to provide mission capable aircraft regardless of the numerous challenges.”

 

According to Senior Airman Jason Mann, 379th EAMXS aerospace maintenance journeyman, the best thing about his job is seeing a C-130 he and his team worked on fly after working on it for hours.

 

“Working under the heat can be a challenge, but when I look at the big picture and how it helps the mission, it is all worth it in the end,” Mann said. “We aren’t the only ones who work on the aircraft, but I know and see that we are a big part of it. When I see and hear the great missions we accomplish here, it gives me a great sense of pride.”

 

Now that their mission with C-130s is coming to an end, new and veteran deployers from Niagara Falls have mixed emotions. It is an end of an era however a new chapter in an already proud history, Canetti said.

 

Now the 914th AW starts a new chapter as the KC-135 Stratotanker make their way to their base.

 

“C-130s are our legacy and our heritage; it’s a bittersweet moment for us because after six deployments here, it has come to an end,” Canetti said. “It’s sad and exciting at the same time. We attend meetings with the KC-135 crews, so we have been asking them a lot of questions and they’ve been very helpful.”

 

As they look towards the closing of this chapter in their home station’s mission, Airmen from the 914th AW expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with Airmen from around the Air Force who make up the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing  throughout the last decade.

 

“Everything that is going on here is incredible,” said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Trosterud, 379th EAMXS superintendent. “We are thankful and happy to have been given the opportunity to contribute to the mission.”