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Supply flight keeps parts moving at OEF base

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is one of the largest units in the Persian Gulf region to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Its primary aircraft are KC-10 Extenders and KC-135 Stratotankers. The wing has delivered almost 300 million pounds of fuel to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the war on terrorism.

The 379th Expeditionary Supply Flight is the focal point for every piece of property used to support the wing's busy mission as well as keeping about 2,000 deployed warfighters equipped for duty.

The deployment has meant a change in mentality for some flight members.

"Our focus at home is keeping planes flying to produce navigators and instructor pilots," said 2nd Lt. Shane Spencer, the flight's commander who is deployed from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. "Here, it's keeping refuelers in the air to sustain air superiority over Afghanistan. We've gone from being behind the scenes to being on the front lines."

Spencer said the flight has created the base's first defense reutilization marketing office process, eliminating several tons of scrap material from the area. They have also supported nearly 1,000 combat sorties and decreased the wing's nonmission capable rates by 60 percent -- the best in nearly six months.

Master Sgt. Craig Wills, flight superintendent, said he particularly enjoys the supervision and leadership aspect of this deployment. At Randolph, he manages a fleet of training aircraft in his role as the weapon system support manager for Air Education and Training Command's logistics directorate.

"Here I get to do both -- manage resources and lead people," he said. "I also have the opportunity to see the fruits of my labor from the training environment back home, because the aircraft we support here are flying real combat sorties. It really brings what I do for a living full circle."

Senior Airman John Martin, a receiving clerk deployed from Randolph AFB, said when he was notified of the deployment, he knew he would not be dropping bombs on the caves that sheltered the terrorists, or be part of an elite special forces unit storming into buildings searching for terrorists.

"But I also realized that I would be able to contribute to the overall mission," he said. "And I'm happy the Air Force is giving me that opportunity."

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