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Combat truckers roll out for last time

U.S. Air Force 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron combat truckers fold the Air Force flag during their inactivation ceremony at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, March 6, 2012. The 387th ELRS participated in the largest retrograde of cargo and personnel since World War II; U.S. Central Command approved the 387th ELRS as "mission complete" and authorized them to inactivate on Dec. 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James Lieth/Released)

U.S. Air Force 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron combat truckers fold the Air Force flag during their inactivation ceremony at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on March 6, 2012. The 387th ELRS participated in the largest retrograde of cargo and personnel since World War II; U.S. Central Command approved the 387th ELRS as "mission complete" and authorized them to inactivate on Dec. 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. James Lieth)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John O'Connor, commander of the 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, furls his squadron's colors during an inactivation ceremony at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, March 6, 2012. The 387th ELRS participated in the largest retrograde of cargo and personnel since World War II; U.S. Central Command approved the 387th ELRS as "mission complete" and authorized them to inactivate on Dec. 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James Lieth/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John O'Connor (right), commander of the 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, furls his squadron's colors during an inactivation ceremony at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on March 6, 2012. The 387th ELRS participated in the largest retrograde of cargo and personnel since World War II; U.S. Central Command approved the 387th ELRS as "mission complete" and authorized them to inactivate on Dec. 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. James Lieth)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The guideon furled silently and slid into its sleeve, signifying the mission was officially complete for the 387th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron during its inactivation ceremony March 6.

Since the mission began in 2003 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, the Airmen and Soldiers of the 387th ELRS conducted thousands of supply runs into Iraq for Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

Rough estimates of the unit's final tallies show the men and women completed more than 1,925 missions and traveled 95 million miles in about eight years.

"While the concept of (Joint Expeditionary Task) Airmen is relatively new, the idea of fighting alongside our sister services is not," said Col. Scott DeThomas, the 387th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "Yes, today we close a chapter on a joint mission well done, but we all know the opportunity will present itself again in the future, and we hope for that same level of cooperation and support to ensure the success of our great nation."

During their missions, the combat truckers faced blistering heat and freezing cold, sand and dust storms, and a lot of vehicle issues on an almost-daily basis. They also overcame numerous insurgent attacks, improvised explosive devices and poor road conditions to get mission-essential equipment to military units and forward operating bases throughout Iraq.

"It wasn't about long hours on the road, eating hundreds of MREs or not getting enough sleep on hard cots," said Lt. Col. John O'Connor, the 387th ELRS commander. "It was about watching Airmen come together from different bases and career fields, forming a solid team and completing the mission when they arrived in country.

"If it wasn't for the joint team, we wouldn't have made it this far," O'Connor said. "So you better tell your kids and tell your grandkids what you did here, because you made history ... I'd like to think that (our fallen) Airmen are looking down upon us right now, because they are proud of you. I'd like to think they've been watching over us, through all the IEDs, the IFPs and all the craziness."

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