Family, friends welcome home 7th Airlift Squadron

By Airman 1st Class Leah Young on May 7, 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- More than 130 Airmen from McChord Field returned home Thursday after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, Odyssey Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. 

"We had a completely successful deployment from total force Team McChord," said Lt. Col. Eric Carney, 7th Airlift Squadron commander. "Our Airmen did an excellent job, we remained mission focused and came out with great results. I'm very proud of them."

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron moved more than 33,900 passengers and delivered more than 81 million pounds of cargo, which is like moving about 1,800 F-22 Raptors. 

The cargo included 9,635 bundles with a combined weight of more than 15 million pounds on 280 drop zones. 

The Airmen, comprised mostly from the 7th AS, were deployed as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. Their mission was to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the assigned areas of responsibility.

The deployment was Staff Sgt. Eric Welp's first with the C-17 Globemaster lll. As a previous KC-135 Stratotanker crew chief, he said the deployment helped him learn about the plane and its mission.

"It seemed like we made a huge impact with this deployment," said Sergeant Welp. "The C-17 mission is a little more diverse than the KC-135. It was amazing to actually see our Airmen perform things like aeromedical evacuations and airdrops."

While Sergeant Welp appreciated the knowledgeable experience, he says he is glad to be home with his family.

"When I left, my son just turned five months old and wasn't even sitting up by himself," said Sergeant Welp. "Now, he's crawling all over the place. We can barely keep up with him!"

The 62nd Airlift Wing's four active duty flying squadrons share responsibility for the deployed squadron and rotate operating the 816 EAS continuously. The deployments allow Air Mobility Command to consistently position assets closer to the action.