Flying Yankees complete first combat sortie

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SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Citizen Airmen of the 103rd Airlift Wing completed their wing’s first ever C-130H Hercules combat sortie March 3, 2017 out of their undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. 

The service members, assigned to 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, delivered cargo and personnel to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. 

“Our first sortie was our first ride in theater,” said Lt. Col. Jason Fallis, 737th EAS pilot. “We went up to two different locations and did some standard resupply [at the fist location] and distinguished visitor movement over at the second location.”

Their first sortie was the result of behind the scenes planning by the men and women of the 103rd AW. 

“That first mission was the culmination of three years of dedicated work on the part of the entire wing,” said Fallis. “Everything went smoothly; it was our first test of whether or not that three year period of investment was paying off.”

The mission was not done when the C-130 aircraft touched down after completing their assignment. 

“Flew to first field, then to second, then back to home station,” said Tech. Sgt. Erin Rivera, 737th EAS loadmaster. “Then we downloaded, uploaded and went back to our second location, they call this a double shuttle.”

Rivera shared his reaction right after completing this first combat sortie. 

“We came back into parking, we shut down engines and looked at our second loadmaster and did a sigh of relief and saying we did it, we made it this far,” he said. “First sortie was eye opening for me.” 

Though this was the 103rd AW’s first C-130 deployed assignment, the Flying Yankees have a long history of supporting the U.S. in time of need. 

“It’s not the first time that Connecticut (Air National Guard) has done a combat deployment,” said Fallis. “As an observation squadron it served in World War I in France and in World War II doing observation and fighter bomber missions.”

Fallis and Rivera expressed their appreciation for their fellow wingmen after a job well done. 

“I couldn’t have put a better group of folks together,” said Rivera.

“I’d fly with them anywhere, do any mission and I have full confidence in all of our crew members,” said Fallis.