8th AS deploys for overseas contingency

By Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss/ 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs on February 1, 2013

The 8th Airlift Squadron deployed Jan. 31 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 60 Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing's 8th AS departed for a 60-day deployment to Southwest Asia. They will be accompanied by Airmen from the 446th AW at JBLM and others from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The Airmen will take over operations of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.

"This will be our third deployment in the last 20 months," said Lt. Col. Harmon Lewis, 8th AS commander, who will also command the 817th EAS. "With the support of other units including our Reserve partners, the 446th AW, we will be supporting forces in Southwest Asia as the principle troop movement and also provide sustainment airdrops to troops in the more austere locations. We'll definitely stay busy, but it will surely make the days go by quickly."

For some Airmen, this will be the first deployment of their career and will put their training to use during the busy time.

"I'm really excited and eager to get out there," said Airman 1st Class Josh Beeler, 8th AS loadmaster from Alva, Okla. "I'm ready to gain more experience and build camaraderie with the rest of the squadron."

The 817th EAS will operate out of two bases, managing and flying missions concentrated in and around Southwest Asia. They are replacing the 10th AS, which is scheduled to return in early February.

The mission of the 817th EAS is 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.

"This will be my first time flying in the combat zone and I look forward to it," said 1st Lt. Daniel Richardson, 8th AS pilot from Flint, Mich.

The 62nd AW's four active duty flying squadrons share responsibility for the deployed squadron and rotate operating the 817th EAS continuously. The deployments allow Air Mobility Command to consistently position assets closer to the action.