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Patriotic Article
War and Tragedy

By USAF TSgt. Oshawn Jefferson

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Joint Team Ensures Supplies Get to War-fighters
(May 29, 2010)

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hall, right, an airdrop inspector assigned to the 824th Quartermaster Company, Det. 8, speaks with Staff Sgt. Bryan Carey, a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, regarding his findings during a joint inspection of container-delivery-system bundles, May 9, 2010 at a base in Southwest Asia.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hall, right, an airdrop inspector assigned to the 824th Quartermaster Company, Det. 8, speaks with Staff Sgt. Bryan Carey, a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, regarding his findings during a joint inspection of container-delivery-system bundles, May 9, 2010 at a base in Southwest Asia.
 SOUTHWEST ASIA – Less than 30 seconds ... that's all it takes for 40 container-delivery-system bundles – totaling 70,000 pounds of supplies – to drop out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III.

As the bundles parachute deploy and descend toward the designated drop zone, Airmen from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron watch another successful delivery of supplies to war-fighters on the ground. While it takes a just thirty seconds for the bundles to be air dropped, a successful mission like this begins way before takeoff.

"For an airdrop to be successful, it all starts with Soldiers and Airmen working as a team," said Maj. Mike Parker, an 816th EAS C-17 pilot at a location in Southwest Asia deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "People always see the end result of an airdrop, but without our joint team we couldn't deliver the supplies war-fighters need to be successful."

After a request for supplies is put in from troops on the ground, a small team of 20 Soldiers from the 824th Quartermasters Company, Detachment 8, deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C., come together to load life-essential supplies into bundles that will be air dropped over the battlefield.

"We're a small team but we understand the impact our mission – combined with the Air Force – has for our forces on the ground," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hall, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger. "It's a big challenge for us to take on but we do it with pride."

Each bundle takes approximately 20 minutes to build. To create a full load of 40 bundles for a C-17 takes more than 800 man-hours.

These Army riggers build bundles that can weigh up to 2,200 pounds – containing life-sustaining food, water, fuel, ammunition and other supplies. In the month of April Soldiers with the unit built over 1,000 bundles totaling more than 1.6 million pounds for troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

"We can take pride in the fact that what we're doing is directly supporting war-fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever supplies are needed in theater," said Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Hall, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger. "Our team puts a lot of effort into ensuring we get the bundles we rig right the first time. We understand that somebody is relying on us to get them the supplies they need to complete their various missions."

After bundles are rigged and ready for delivery, Airmen from the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron take them to waiting aircraft for delivery. It can take from one to three hours to get bundles loaded on an aircraft.

"Sometimes we get overlooked in the air-drop process," said Tech. Sgt. Collin Skinner, 8th EAMS aerial porter at a location in Southwest Asia and deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "But there're no small parts in the process, our aerial porters are out here every day making sure people and supplies get to their destinations. It's a total team effort and we're happy to be a part of it."

After the bundles are loaded aboard the aircraft a joint team of Soldiers and Airmen spent about an hour inspecting each bundle to ensure they are secure and parachutes are ready to deploy when they are dropped out of the aircraft.

"Almost 100 percent of the time when we get bundles from the Soldiers, they're ready for delivery," said Senior Airman Brandon Ybarra, 816th EAS loadmaster and air-drop inspector deployed from JBLM. "These guys are good at what they do and I love working with them."

"We don't normally work with the Air Force back home, so this is a unique experience for us," said Army Specialist Jacob Menster, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger and air-drop inspector deployed from Fort Bragg. "It has been great to see how the air drop process works and come together as a cohesive team to ensure we have a successful deliveries of the bundles."

After the inspection is compete Airmen take off and to make the delivery, only after coordinating with war-fighters on the ground.

"Communication and teamwork are what makes us a valuable asset for our air and ground commanders," said Major Parker, a native of Simpson, Ill. "Airmen and Soldiers work at home station, aircrews flying with precision, and ground assets telling us where to drop supplies means success for our war-fighters., "

Less than 30 seconds is all it takes for the bundles to drop out of the back, but for war-fighters on the ground, the success comes because of the time Airmen and Soldiers put into working as a team.
Article by USAF TSgt. Oshawn Jefferson, U.S. AFCENT Combat Camera Team
Photo by USAF SSgt. Manuel Martinez
Copyright 2010

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