39th AS marks first J-model deployment
By Airman Autumn Velez, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 17, 2013
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- More than 180 Airmen from Dyess' 39th Airlift Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia Sept. 3-8, marking the first purely C-130 J-model deployment for the squadron.
"Since 2010, the 317th Airlift Group has been transitioning our fleet and our aircrew from the C-130H to the newest version of the Herc, the C-130J Super Hercules. Earlier this year, we completed the conversion, becoming the largest J-model fleet in the Air Force," said Maj. Michael Contardo, 39th Airlift Squadron garrison commander. "For the first time, the 39th has deployed with all J-model aircraft, bringing with them increased mission capability and efficiency."
During the six-month deployment, Airmen will be operating in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility where they will support theater commanders' requirements with combat-delivery capability through tactical airland and airdrop operations as well as humanitarian efforts and aeromedical evacuation.
"The C-130 is always going to have a part in overseas contingency operations; now and long into the future, due to the versatility of the airframe. It is reliable; with a combination of the J and H models, the 317th AG has been able to continuously deploy, providing combat support for more than nine-and-a-half years. It's flexible; the C-130 can be configured for many different missions--air-land, airdrop, medical evacuation and reconnaissance, allowing one aircraft to do the mission of many," Contardo said. "The value of the C-130 has grown with the implementation of this more technologically-advanced model. And we have sent the best trained, hardworking and innovative Airmen in the Air Force to the AOR to ensure these assets are put to great use."
As in any armed service, deployments are a regular occurrence in the Air Force and while there are many who have multiple deployments under their belts, there are some that are facing their first.
"I'm looking forward to deploying," said 1st Lt. Tyler Comte, a C-130 pilot from the 39th AS. "Last year, I saw this deployment was coming up and I couldn't help but constantly check to see if my name was on the list to go."
Although deploying presents challenges and hardships for any servicemember, the camaraderie in the C-130 squadron help Airmen find a positive outlook.
"The only part of this deployment that I'm not looking forward to be being away during the holiday season, but I know I am surrounded by a great group of people in the C-130 community and I will receive great support from back home," Comte said.
For many of our Airmen, the opportunity to deploy and put to use their skills and talents is welcomed.
"I've been training for this opportunity for three years, I can finally employ the mission," Comte added.