Team Dover C-5 Airmen return from vital mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Morgan
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
At 4:30 p.m. on any given Friday one can hear the sounds of tires screeching as the majority of servicemembers and their families head out to enjoy the weekend.

At 4:30 p.m. on March 3, 2011, servicemembers and their families weren't headed off for the weekend, they were headed to the flight-line to welcome back the first C-5 that had been deployed for more than a month. However, the first plane carried no passengers.

Anticipation grew for the next three planes to arrive, and as the anticipation grew, the crowd grew. Eventually the flight-line was flooded with welcome-home signs. At 6:30 p.m., the planes carrying passengers landed and a wave of relief washed over the crowd.

On that day, more than 110 Team Dover Airmen were reunited with their loved ones after flying across Europe and the Middle East supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The mission, completed by members of the 436th and the 512th Airlift Wings, moved more than 100 helicopters from Western Europe to operations all across Afghanistan.
They then returned more than 60 helicopters back to Europe. The mission completion set a precedent for future airlift operations involving the C-5 community.

The return of Team Dover members marked the first time this helicopter-transport mission has been accomplished exclusively by members from one base.

"We moved two combat aviation brigades, one into theater and one out," said Lt. Col. Dave Herbison, 9th Airlift Squadron standardization and evaluation chief.

By transporting the Chinooks, the Apaches, the Black Hawks, and the Kiowas in at the same time as they were pulling them out, there was no loss of combat power in the area of responsibility, said Colonel Herbison.

"We enabled our Army counterparts to do their mission," said Lt. Col. Michael Semo, 709th C-5M Program Office chief.

Colonel Herbison and Colonel Semo worked with Army members who told them the operation was the smoothest they had seen since being involved in that type of transportation.

The mission's importance is not only seen through the end result the delivery, but how the helicopters were delivered.

Team Dover members from the 9th Airlift Squadron, the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 709th Airlift Squadron and the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron participated in the mission.

The mission was comprised of four aircraft, two C-5Ms and two C-5Bs, eight flight crews, 22 maintainers and two logistics personnel to accomplish the mission, said Colonel Herbison. The mission used no assets from outside what they were provided.

"I knew every guy out there with us," said Colonel Herbison. "It made a huge difference in the synergy we presented and the ability to exploit everyone's strengths."

The way in which the mission used the C-5 outlines a new strategy.

"Team Dover's C-5 mission is typically global," said Col. David Hafer, 436th Operations Group commander. "This time, the mission was regional; instead of going 100 places one time, we went one place 100 times."

Using this strategy, the group accomplished a mission that could take up to six months, in one month, said Colonel Hafer.

Colonels Hafer, Semo, and Herbison all agree on one important factor that changed the mission -- the M model of the C-5. The C-5M allows for less fuel consumption and therefore less time spent on the ground.

The unique ways in which the mission was carried out may become the new paradigm for the C-5 community.

"Very rarely does the C-5 community have the opportunity to mobilize," said Colonel Hafer. "They went into a combat zone as a team, facing peril along the way, and came back with a sense of pride and accomplishment."

The mission is being labeled a success by all who participated, or oversaw it.

"This gave Air Mobility Command a look at how this can be done," said Col Herbison. "And how it should be done in the future."