News>Reserve giving warfighters gifts they can use
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- Tech. Sgt. Paul Oxford moves another pallet of supplies a little closer to the warfighters in Iraq. Deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., through the holidays, the ramp services supervisor at Incirlik AB adds to the unit's total of about 86,800 tons of cargo moved since June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bob Thompson)
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- A military-contracted 747 is unloaded by Incirlik's aerial porters of the 728th Air Mobility Squadron. With about 100 deployed Reservists working around the clock, Incirlik Air Base is the main airlift hub for moving cargo into Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bob Thompson)
by Lt. Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
11/28/2005 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- Giving and receiving are the hallmarks of the holiday season. If you don't believe it, ask the aerial porters here who receive an average of 600,000 pounds of cargo every day and give the warfighters in Iraq "gifts" they can use.
"When airlift operations at Frankfurt (Germany) closed, Incirlik ops ramped up significantly," said 1st Lt. Jim Burnham of the 728th Air Mobility Squadron. "We rely on the Reserve force to come in and augment us."
Of the 250-person team, 100 of the aerial porters are Reservists deployed for 30 to 120 days. In the shadow of Turkey's Tarsus mountains, the Total Force team works around the clock to move 55 percent of the people, equipment, food and supplies required by coalition forces in Iraq.
"The people down range really need this cargo," said Tech. Sgt. Paul Oxford, a ramp services supervisor deployed from the Reserve's 82nd Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "We've been very busy. It makes the time pass quickly."
Scheduled to augment the Incirlik team until February, the Reservists' efforts have contributed to the unit moving more than 86,800 tons of cargo since June 1.
"The analogy I like to use is that we've moved the equivalent weight of 20,000 cars through here since June," Lieutenant Burnham said. "One of the problems in Iraq is that the Humvees don't have enough armor. Incirlik is the answer to that problem."
Enclosed in blue containers, the lieutenant said, the add-on armor is one of the heaviest things they deliver into the eight airlift destinations in Iraq.
"The increase to our aerial hub's mission means there are less convoys. That means there are less troops getting attacked on the roads," said the lieutenant. "We couldn't do this without the Reserve."
"Whenever we go out, we're ready to do our real-world mission," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Barrios of the 927th Air Refueling Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.