Keesler Reservists support Southwest Asia operations
By Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo, 403rd Wing
/ Published January 16, 2018
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Approximately 150 Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen and several C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 403rd Wing here deployed to Southwest Asia in Support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve.
Assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing based at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, aircrews from the 815th Airlift Squadron, maintainers from the 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and support personnel from the 403rd Wing will provide airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation support to operations throughout the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.
"It is an exciting time in the 403rd Wing, as the last two years of re-building and re-training have finally culminated in a deployment to execute our primary combat airlift mission,” said Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio, 815th AS commander. “Our Airmen are willing and able to accomplish any mission they are assigned.”
As a brand new squadron activated October 2016, this will be the first deployment for the 803rd AMXS.
“We will show that this unit was put here for a reason and silence anyone who thinks a young squadron can’t fulfill the combat mission as good as, if not better than, a seasoned tactical maintenance squadron,” said Maj. Brian Horton, 803rd AMXS commander.
As the deployment lead, the 815th AS “Flying Jennies” will be assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. This is the 815th’s sixth deployment since 2004 and Airmen and aircraft from the 403rd Wing have also provided airlift support for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The most recent deployment for the Flying Jennies was in 2013, and was considered bittersweet by its personnel because the unit was scheduled to close in 2014. The Secretary of the Air Force reversed that recommendation in 2015, and the 815th AS officially reached full operational capability in November.
“I’ve watched our Reserve Citizen Airmen train nonstop for months to prepare for this deployment,” said Col. Jennie R. Johnson, 403rd Wing commander. “They are ready, and they are capable.”