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March refuelers complete Pacific deployment

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron,
takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 25.  The KC-135 flew as a
target of interest in an exercise known as Jungle Shield.  The KC-135s were
deployed to support U.S. Pacific Command's Theater Support Package and
Continuous Bomber Presence in the Asia-Pacific region. They redeployed to
March Air Reserve Base, Cali., Aug. 31.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman
Christopher Bush/Released)

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug. 25, 2009. The KC-135 flew as a target of interest in an exercise known as Jungle Shield. The KC-135s were deployed to support U.S. Pacific Command's Theater Support Package and Continuous Bomber Presence in the Asia-Pacific region. They redeployed to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Aug. 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Bush)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The second team of 110 reservists from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., returned home Aug. 31 after completing the last half of a four-month rotation supporting air refueling missions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Airmen from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing flew KC-135 Stratotankers on aerial refueling missions for F-22s and B-52s supporting Pacific Command's Theater Security Package and Continuous Bomber.

During their 60-day deployment, the Airmen assigned to 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flew 71 sorties. They logged 288 flying hours and refueled about 2,500,000 pounds of fuel.

"Supporting the Continuous Bomber Presence and Theater Security Package missions was a great opportunity to translate all of our training into real-world results," said Lt. Col. James Finney, former 506th EARS commander. "Everyone pulled together and functioned as a team.

"Both of the fellow deployed squadrons, B-52s and F-22s, were 100 percent professional," he said. "I'm confident we could perform any mission we were tasked to execute with complete success. At the end of the day, that's what matters."

From the beginning of the deployment, Colonel Finney said the unit had a successful deployment.

"We were able to seamlessly integrate into the operations of the 36th Wing," he said. "This allowed us to be very successful in supporting numerous operations with not only the F-22s and B-52s, but also with Navy assets. Additionally, we were able to help Air Force test flights."

Colonel Finney said during their deployment, the maintenance personnel had the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the Air Force core values by fixing a broken aircraft tasked for an urgent medical evacuation flight in the middle of the night.

"Whether it was routine maintenance or fixing a broken air evacuation aircraft, our personnel demonstrated why we have the best Air Force in the world," he said.

The team effort of accomplishing the mission is one of reasons Senior Master Sgt. Nicole Canada, former 506th boom operator, is one of the first to deploy.

"I've always enjoyed the camaraderie and accomplishment you get with real-world missions," she said.

Sergeant Canada feels working with the different airframes was a great experience for the younger Airmen.

"I think the integration with the bombers and fighters has been a great learning experience," she said. "New boom operators have received a variety of the experience from the oldest to the newest aircraft in just one deployment. I think it's amazing, and it's great training for the Airmen."

Reservists and KC-135 Stratofortresses from the 916th Air Refueling Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., have replaced March Airmen in supporting the PACOM's Theater Security Package and Continuous Bomber Presence. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)