Extreme cold hitting deployed airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman Nicole Spence
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The weather is extreme at Ganci Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, just 120 miles east of the Chinese border. It is early December and snow and ice consume the landscape, and people face four-degree temperatures outside. For those airmen without the gear to keep warm, it is time to head to supply.

"We're trying to keep people warm. That is our biggest driving factor for now," said Tech. Sgt. James Jackson, 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron individual equipment issue unit noncommissioned officer in charge here.

With help from other servicemembers like Jackson, the 376th ELRS issues individual equipment to deployed personnel. This includes cold weather gear for U.S. and coalition forces.

The squadron handles all facets of supply, including its main undertaking of supporting the base's air refueling mission by managing spare parts for the KC-135 Straotankers deployed from Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

Five of the 11 IEU staff members are deployed here from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The remaining airmen come from Kadena Air Base, Japan; Pope AFB, N.C.; and Robins. Eight from the team work days, and the other three cover nights.

The base depends on the staff to manage 13 equipment accounts, handle millions of dollars of equipment and keep people protected from the blistering cold.

Black knit caps, Gortex liners and boots are the most sought after items right now, said Jackson, deployed from Ramstein.

"But things can get difficult because not everyone gets what they want for whatever reason," he said. "Sometimes they aren't authorized the item, and other times we just don't have it in stock."

Most of the people who leave the unit empty handed take it well, said Staff Sgt. L. Calvin, a supply technician from Ramstein.

"People seem pretty understanding," said Calvin. "We help that by setting standards and (applying) them (uniformly) to everyone. That keeps the confusion level down."

Being deployed to such an inhospitable environment can come as a shock to some people, but most agree the experience is worthwhile.

"This is my first real deployment, and I've been here (since Dec. 3)," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Youngquist, another supply technician. "I wasn't really expecting this much cold, but it's worthwhile because I'm getting to see how everyone interacts at a smaller scale than Ramstein.

"Even with the hardships of this deployment and the severe weather, this is going to be great, a really good time," said Youngquist. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)