JBLM Airman deploys, keeps ground troops supplied from sky

By Air Force News on January 30, 2012

Senior Airman Jonathan Fabis, a loadmaster with the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, recently deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia from the 7th Airlift Squadron out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Fabis, a native of Washington D.C., deployed to the 817th EAS, a C-17 Globemaster III flying squadron and joined a group of airmen ranging in specialties from loadmasters, to navigators to pilots. These airmen are what keeps this highly functional squadron operating.

They work as a team flying thousands of miles to perform an array of missions around their assigned area of responsibility.

Equipped with C-17s, the 817th EAS transport and support coalition forces engaging in combat operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and they also operate in the Horn of Africa.

The squadron's mission is to provide strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the AOR.

Fabis and members of his team fly missions several times a week, but some of them like certain parts of the mission more than others.

"I always enjoy deployments," said Fabis. "It's a great place to get to know the people you work with and see just how you fit into the larger picture.

"My favorite part of our mission here are the combat airdrops," he continued. "Knowing that I am directly affecting the warfighter on the ground is worth all the hard work."

An airdrop mission is when supplies like food and fuel is loaded onto a plane and then dropped from the back of the aircraft over remote forward operating bases in the AOR.

The supplies are packaged into separate pallets and adorned with a parachute. As the pallet falls from the aircraft, the parachute is released and able to land safely in its projected location. Once on the ground, local coalition forces will recover the supplies.

This is Fabis' second deployment and he has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for more than two years.