Go-to Guys in the Skies: 817th EAS provides vital logistics link to Soldiers, Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tiffany Orr
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Supply and demand. Those two words sum up the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron's mission.

Staffed by McChord's 4th Airlift Squadron and operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, the 817th EAS is a vital logistics link between agencies outside of Central Command's area of responsibility and troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Senior Airman Michael Solin, 817th EAS.

"We support the war fighter first-hand by making sure Soldiers [and Airmen] get downrange and receive the supplies they need when they need them," he said.

So far, the squadron has transported more than 41 million pounds of crucial cargo on 1,211 combat sorties across Iraq and Afghanistan to ground troops who needed it, said Capt. Jody Turk, 817th EAS.

However, the 817th EAS wouldn't have been so successful in accomplishing its mission if not for the ground crews who unload their cargo and give intelligence briefings, said Captain Turk.

"Our support is great," he said. "We couldn't have better maintainers. Many times we [have received] info we didn't have before we flew in during intelligence briefings [that has saved us]."

The great support 817th EAS aircrews receive during their missions keeps many of them going, he said.

"The ground personnel down at the Air Terminal Operations Center in Afghanistan and Iraq are so excited to see cargo come in," he said. "They are happy to get it. That's why I always ask the ground crew if they need anything. I always ask what I can bring them ... coffee ... soft drinks."

When 817th EAS aircrews aren't hauling life-saving cargo across CENTCOM, they are usually doing something that impacts the mission for good, whether it is scheduling and giving briefings or engaging in cultural exchange with locals, said Airman Solin.

"While I was based at Manas, I had the opportunity to go in to Bishek and see some sights," he said.

"Since Manas is very cold this time of year, Incirlik is a nice change of pace. It has warm and sunny days. 

[The locals] are also very friendly and eager to sell you anything from soft drinks to handmade carpets."

Even though they get to participate in a great mission and see new things daily, there is something that all the 817th EAS Airmen are doing, said Captain Jones -- counting down the days until they can come back home.

"Everybody is ready to come back," he said. "I have a 3-year-old son and a wife who is due in April." 

Airman Solin echoed Captain Jones' sentiment.

"I miss my family and friends, my church, American food, the Puget Sound, the mountains, driving my car and the freedoms we enjoy in the United States."

Only a few more weeks until the 4th AS Airmen with the 817th EAS get their wish.