Deployed McChord Airmen help bring families together

By Air Force News on January 13, 2012

TRANSIT CENTER MANAS, Kyrgyzstan - During the two week period of Dec. 10 to 25, approximately 17,108 servicemembers travelling via the Transit Center at Manas made it home in time to see their families for the holiday season.

"On average, Detachment 1 processes 800 passengers a day," said Capt. Jonathan Bowe, 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (Detachment 1) assistant director of operations. "On Christmas day, we flew a total of 984 passengers."

Bowe is deployed to TCM from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and also works as an instructor aircraft commander in the C-17 Globemaster III.

On Christmas Eve a C-17 Globemaster III arrived with 158 Marines from Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan. The average lay-over time for transients is two to three days; the Marines left the TCM by 11 a.m. the next day.

Airman Brooke Breeden also works for 817th EAS and is a loadmaster also deployed from JBLM. On Christmas day, he flew 158 Marines into the area of responsibility and brought the 158 Marines back to the TCM.

"It was really touching to bring 158 Marines out of the AOR after their yearlong deployment," Breeden said. "They were so happy and that makes up for flying on Christmas."

For Bowe, working on Christmas was like working on any other day, but he knew the impact he had on the military members and their families transiting through the TCM.

"It's always nice to know you are helping people get home to see their families no matter what day it is," Bowe said.

Breeden agreed, adding, "On Christmas night, one of the passengers from my flight told me he and his whole unit were going to make it home for New Year's. He thanked me for giving up my holiday and making it feel like Christmas. It's the little things like that, that make you feel like you are making a difference."

As a first time deployer, Breeden has made some great memories.

"This is my first holiday season away from home, but I've met so many interesting people and have a new appreciation for other branches of service and what they go through," Breeden said. "TCM brings everybody together, it doesn't matter your branch of service (or nationality), out here, we are all moving the same mission. This has been a great experience that I will never forget."

Bowe has also made some great memories during his deployment.

"Hearing our passengers cheer when we told them we were crossing the border out of Afghanistan on Christmas was the best moment," Bowe said. "One of the most satisfying things about this job is starting our troops on their way home to see their loved ones."