Air Force convoy teams go above and beyond
By Capt. Daniel Hosler, 60th Aerial Port Squadron
/ Published September 26, 2007
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
After several years in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Airmen performing duties that are ordinarily provided by the Army is far from being a new concept.
In fact, this requirement continues to grow among many Air Force specialties as our Airmen continue to prove that they can perform non-typical duties at the highest level. This has never been truer than with Travis' convoy units, the 70th Medium Truck Detachment Scorpions and the 424th Medium Truck Detachment Centurions.
Recently, I returned from a seven-month deployment where I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as the detachment commander of the 424th Medium Truck Detachment. Until this time, I truly did not grasp the sacrifice or the hardships these combat Airmen overcome in serving our nation.
These selfless men and women put their lives on the line every time they "cross the berm," the border that delineates the departure from Kuwait into Iraq. During a 210-day period, these Airmen complete more than 180 convoys, put 2.5 million convoy miles on the road and encounter more than 40 improvised explosive devices and small arms fire.
The majority of Airmen assigned to the two detachments are vehicle operators and vehicle mechanics. Overall, each detachment consists of eight different specialties from 36 bases around the world. Each individual and function has a critical role in ensuring that cargo and supplies get to the warfighter as quickly as possible.
"Although I am a communication troop at Travis, out there I filled in wherever I could. That was just the type of effort it takes from everyone on a convoy team to be successful," said Staff Sgt. Adam Martin, 60th Communication Squadron.
There are many just like Sergeant Martin who have served on convoy duty deployments previously and will continue to sacrifice again. Convoy operations are very intricate, particularly when dealing with an austere environment of war-torn countries. There is an incredible amount of responsibility that includes delivering cargo, providing on-the-spot medical care, coordinating the evacuation of wounded and even fighting the enemy when needed.
The team has to keep a keen eye on the roads for emplaced IEDs, small arms fire and other dangers such as explosive formed projectiles that can penetrate nearly all types of armor.
Enemy attacks are not the only obstacle these brave Airmen face. The roads themselves are treacherous after four years of sustained conflict.
After a nine-month period that included two months of intense training, I rarely heard an Airman complain. Despite the strain it often put on themselves and their families. The convoy teams that the Air Force has provided the Army as In-Lieu of Forces have been highly regarded and highly decorated.
As Airmen, our focus must always be based on the flying mission. However, we must stop to recognize this historic group of young men and women that are selflessly going above and beyond what their service originally asked of them. That is truly living by our core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do.