Airlift Squadron returns from Operation Enduring Freedom

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. David Speicher
  • 175th Wing Public Affairs
The Maryland Air National Guard's 135th Airlift Squadron returned to Warfield Air National Base on June 25, from a deployment to Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom to a crowd of family members and well wishers happy to see them return.

The first of two C-27Js returned Monday and the second cargo plane returned Tuesday. Each plane returned with 14 people on board including aircrew and contract maintenance personnel. The approximately 30 guardsmen of command and support staff are scheduled to return within a week.

The Guardsmen were flying cargo mission in direct support of the US Army.

Lt. Col. Joe Brophy, a pilot with the 135th Airlift Squadron flew Monday's plane on the final leg back to Maryland. "As it always does when we get home, it feels good to be home."

"It was very rewarding work we were doing supporting the soldier directly," said Brophy."The biggest difference is we worked directly for the U.S. Army, we worked directly for the soldier. We supplied water, fuel and food as they were engaged in offensive operations. It was rewarding, whether it was an air drop or flying into a forward operating base."

Tech. Sgt. Mary Watkins, a load master with the 135th Airlift Squadron, had a different reaction to coming home. "It wasn't long enough. It was my first deployment. I've been waiting ten years to deploy." Watkins explained that after all the years of training and career development courses she was eager to put her skills to work.

Watkins said, "Most of the missions were pretty basic. There were a couple of airdrops I got to do. It was good to hear the user on the other end, seeing it going out the aircraft and seeing it get to the people it was intended for. I was enjoying working for the Army."

Although she felt the deployment was short she said, "It feels good to be back. There are the little things you miss - crab legs and normal tasting soda."

Brig. Gen. Scott Kelly, 175th Wing Commander, said, "I'm glad to have them home. They did some great work with direct support to the Army. They proved their worth."