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"Optimism (light) is the power that ultimately defeats fear (darkness)."

Monday, January 09, 2006


Long Convoy - Brothers in Blues

If asked, I bet everyone out there thinks that all the Air Force does is fly stuff around and send Stealth Aircraft in to take out a radio tower or two. Maybe some of you have bumped into some AFSOS folks - yeah, they actually carry weapons and get to shoot stuff. I know that, while shipping in and out or rotating from your duty station, you've seen the SPs (Security Police) on the Flightline, securing the entry points, or maybe on the perimeter in the tree line (and some you don't see).

How many of you have bumped into a convoy, and as the convoy team jumps out, see some "upside down chevrons" on the sleeve?

How many of you have been in the chow hall line and noticed something sorta outta place - like, somebody said "Air Force" and "Mike 88" in the same breath?

has a great story that I tripped over while traversing the web. The story is about the Airmen of the 424th Medium Truck Detachment and their primary mission: move the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division's supplies and materiel from Kuwait into Iraq. The trips are long, the danger is real, and this team loves the mission!


If you looked at anyone assigned to a convoy and they were in an Air Force chow hall line with folks from the flightline and CBPO (Central Base Personnel Office), I think you'd find it hard to tell their specialty. I know that unless I knew the person because I either saw them on the flightline, or in a shop, or at CBPO, the only way was their hat! (FMS, AMS, OMS, ok, I'm dating myself here). When I was at Rhein Main AFB, we all wore an FMS cap. I worked in avionics (AMS), and I am still proud to have been in the 435th FMS, mind you, but I'm making a point. These Air Force folks are wearing the same hats and BDUs - they all blend in with one another!

Yet, in the Army, if you are in a chow hall line at a new post, one glance at someone's patches or cover and you can start a quick conversation. In fact, I bet it is pretty easy to find somewhere to sit with folks talking about the same stuff. The bond is quick and the stories are often new. Sometimes you find out that that one story was a myth 'cause you're sitting right next to the subject of the story! Even in war or peace the Army can find someone in the same specialty and strike up a friendship pretty quickly.

And here, they are all one:


This photo jumped right out at me! Whether in green or blue the mission is clear. This whole team watches out for one another, and a higher power is watching over them. It's great that they take the time to share a prayer that they all make it through safely.

The Air Force has a limited few visual distinctions. Sometimes there is a badge or insignia, but mostly we all have the same stuff. Planes are all the same, except for their two letter base codes on the tail. There really isn't any way to pick out any one team, but then I saw the door on their vehicle!


Now, that says, "I'm coming so get outta my way!"

This whole team approaches their mission with conviction and ease. I really liked this part of the story:
"... a few decided to have breakfast before stretching out on a cot. The dining facility was crowded and more than a few looks were directed toward the convoy Airmen -- the only "non-Army" troops in the building."
Then, Technical Sergeant Bill Bellmore's quote about chow hall lines - Army chow hall lines:
"It's the same thing everywhere we go, Soldiers always ask, 'What are you [Air Force people] doing here?'"
Funny looks and questions - not bad, just, Huh?! Is there an Air Force base around here we didn't know anything about?!

I've only experienced this once on a TDY (Flintlock), and it was pretty funny. Being so different, I found LOTS of people to talk to because everyone else wanted to know what I was doing in their chow hall (not in a bad way, just, Huh?!)

Once they have delivered their cargo on the first leg of the trip, their next job is to backhaul stuff heading out of Iraq. As Sergeant Bellmore said:
"We've got one Army division moving in and one going out. That's a lot of cargo."
This team takes care of their vehicles and do "pre-flight" checks before hitting the road.


They are a self-sufficient unit, as is everyone in the U.S. Military. You bring what you need and you request what you forgot -- or realize you need now, 'cause the mission has changed. So, in comes the 424th to get it to you.


It turns out that the Airmen surprise lots of Soldiers. The team says that even though they get the same reactions every time they stop, it doesn't bother them. They like explaining what it is they do, and that the Air Force is there to move stuff on the ground too - not just the air. As Airman Ginocchio said:
"We're the equivalent of '88 Mike's.' But we drive anything."
Seems the team even surprises Soldiers using the right lingo for what they do. The writer, Staff Sergeant Scott Campbell of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, said the following:
"Almost every time, the surprise came with a look of newfound respect. Because, while this convoy was safe, the roads of Iraq are deadly. Convoys must brave improvised explosive devices, hostile fire and other enemy activity on a trip. That is in addition to the common, everyday road hazards most are familiar with."

"But each day, Airmen conducting convoys is a more common sight."
The best quote, I think is from Senior Airman Marchuk. He he doesn't mind the questions and looks from the Soldiers, because:
"No matter what branch of service you're in, if you're called to do something, you have to do what you have to do."
Well said.


Stay Tuned to ...




UPDATE: Missing some credits to other blogs
I just read, thanks to the Officer's Club, that they had posted the photo of the USAF and USA team sharing a prayer for their safetly and a successful mission. The photo is amazing, and I didn't know that they had posted it last week. So, belated HT to the Officer's Club!

Oh, and they linked back to me today in reference to this article. Thanks again, Officer's Club!

MaryAnn over at Soldiers' Angels Germany, also had the photo. Wow, I must have really been out of it this last week (did have a bad cold, but). Thanks MaryAnn for leaving kind word in the comments here, too.

7 Comments:

At 1/10/2006 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Kath said...

I really enjoyed reading that, thanks :-)

 
At 1/10/2006 01:03:00 PM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

I love the prayer and camaraderie the best! The cross-branch cohesion that is going on is awesome, too. Something I love to write about.

I cannot do the original article on AF.mil justice. I tried to get a flavor of what I took away. Their whole story is what is awesome. Hard work, long days, and relying on one another.

Yep, AF.mil had a great story.

 
At 1/10/2006 08:25:00 PM, Blogger yankeemom said...

Oh, that is such a great story! Thanks for showing us army people more about the AF. My uncle was in the AF during WWII and flew over Germany quite a few times but he rarely talked about it.
OK, I have a question (since I have your attention) - the Army goes Hooah and the Marines go Oorah - what does the AF say??

 
At 1/10/2006 10:10:00 PM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

In Basic, our TI taught us to say, "Uhh-HRooo". The 'uhh' is lower to almost be like a groan. The 'H' in HRoo is purposeful - to push the 'ooo's out of the plane!

Uhh-Rhoo
Oooh-Rah
Hoo-ahh

Almost all the same, eh?

 
At 1/11/2006 03:16:00 PM, Anonymous MaryAnn said...

Great post, Steve. Good to have the background on that photo.

Heard something similar recently while talking with a patient (Army) in Landstuhl. Not sure how the subject of AF troops in Iraq came up, but he looked up at me and said, "They're wearing armor, they're carrying weapons, and when the sh#t hits the fan, they're right in the middle of it. You can hardly tell the difference."

Thought you might enjoy that ;-)

 
At 1/11/2006 03:57:00 PM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

MaryAnn, thanks for sharing that Soldier's words with us! I got shivers all over!

This is EXACTLY why I wanted to write this post. I think it is great that today's Air Force is linked even tighter to the Army. To hark back to WWII, the Army Air Corp expanded into it's own - the US Air Force. 58 years later, with a solid mission and very effective tools and training, a powerful "blade" is being forged with her (the USAF) roots: the United States Army.

I suspect that there is less linkage with the Marines, even though a small amount is happening. But that is primarily because the USMC have the Navy for close air support. They have been working well together - well, forever! :)

I believe that these changes, and the new aircraft and tools being developed, provide a solid force.

It's just great!

 
At 1/12/2006 01:51:00 AM, Anonymous MaryAnn said...

Typical AF - when you mention Navy it's in the context of CAS for Marines ;-)

But seriously, yes, you make a good point.

 

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