Airmen are in the fight


“The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win … in air, space and cyberspace.”

The Air Force is definitely in the fight and living up to its above-mentioned mission statement. As an Airman, I’ve always known that. However, I noticed a couple of articles highlighting this fact today on the Air Force’s Web site.

One of the most heavily tasked career fields is explosive ordnance disposal. These Airmen provide an invaluable service to the joint and coalition teams supporting in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Dealing with the uncertainty of unexploded ordnance makes these Airmen heroes.

One such EOD hero is Tech. Sgt. Michael Williams, 437th Civil Engineer Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Charleston Airman honored for heroic actions is an awesome article about him receiving decorations for his actions in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Williams came upon an improvised explosive device Aug. 2. Trisha Gallaway’s story explains what happened:

With one step, his foot landed on a different land mine with an IED on it.

“(Following the detonation of the IED) the insurgents started firing on us at the location,” [Sergeant Williams] said. “My teammates did an outstanding job defending the area, taking care of me and getting out of there. I was very grateful.”

After losing the lower portion of his left leg from the explosion, (Sergeant Williams) courageously conducted post-blast crater analysis while engaged by insurgent small-arms fire. He passed vital details regarding the composition and size of the detonated IED to members of his patrol and assisted in his own medical treatment while awaiting evacuation.

During the evacuation, Sergeant Williams continued to pass information concerning the explosive device to his fellow team members while heroically manning his weapon in order to provide security as they moved to the helicopter landing zone.

“Everyone reacts differently to an injury,” Sergeant Williams said. “I just went back to the training I received and tried to do as best I could to make sure everyone got out of there. The job still has to get done. You can’t just stop, so I tried to do as much as I could and the best I could do it (given the situation).”

Another example of Airmen in the fight is Senior Airman Ashley Jackson. The deployed Eielson AFB, Alaska, Airman used her medic training to treat Soldiers she’s assigned with who were injured in an IED explosion to their mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. (Airman renders combat first aid to Soldiers)

[Airman Jackson] checked the gunner’s airway, breathing and circulation; then she checked him for injuries. He didn’t need a tourniquet, but his leg had a femur fracture. To get him onto a backboard, Airman Jackson had to get him out of the turret.

“I gave him morphine to prepare him for the pain he was about to experience when we removed him from the turret,” Airman Jackson said. “I realigned his leg as best I could, trying not to cause any more damage.”

Capt. Darrick Lee wrote a fine end to the article:

It was not long, in fact only a few days, before Airman Jackson did just that, donning her body armor, grabbing her weapons and going on patrol outside the wire with the [Provincial Reconstruction Team] again. When asked how she felt about the remainder of her deployment in light of surviving an IED attack, she replied: “I need to take care of my brothers, and now I know I can do my job. The rest of this deployment is going to be OK.”

Some people associate aircraft – not ground-based Airmen – when thinking of the Air Force. They are also contributing to war effort with increased aerial mobility efforts (Mobility Airmen continue peak pace for Operation Enduring Freedom). Air Mobility Command aircraft carried more than 137,500 tons of cargo between April and September. In the same time period, tankers off-loaded 563 million pounds of fuel.

AMC set airdrop records throughout the summer: 3.2 million in June, 3.3 million in July, 3.8 million in August and 4.1 million in September. Air crews dropped an average of 1,065 cargo bundles a month for a projected total of 12,700 bundles for the year. In comparison, they dropped 5,675 bundles for all of 2007. They are also doing it with fewer sorties (a projected 435 for the year) compared to 538 in 2007.

Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol included a great quote that shows the appreciation for the Air Force from troops down range.

“The Air Force airdrops are providing needed support to Soldiers in the field; getting people and parts to our guys in the (forward operating bases) and in the mountains,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Wright, deployed to Afghanistan from the 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, Ky. “The Air Force is doing a great job and it’s great to have them out here.”