Skip to comments.Refueling Squadron Answers Late Night Call
Posted on 02/14/2007 5:58:39 PM PST by SandRat
Aircrew aids Globemaster carrying severely injured troops from Iraq.
ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England, Feb. 14, 2007 A late night call, a cancelled sortie and flexibility led an aircrew from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron here to expedite medical care for more than a dozen severely injured troops being transported from Iraq to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Feb. 7.
"The maintainers and my crew worked unbelievably fast because we realized how critical the mission was, "
Capt. Colin Henderson, 351st Refueling Squadron
According to Capt. Brent Toth, 100th Operations Support Squadron scheduler, the refueling mission was far from the norm.
"We got a call around 2:30 a.m. asking if we could refuel a high-priority air-evacuation mission (en route) to the hospital at Andrews," Toth said. "Luckily we had a cancelled flight, and we had a crew available."
That crew was Capt. Colin Henderson, co-pilot 1st Lt. John Cramer and boom operator Tech. Sgt. Raile Cantrell. Henderson had been scheduled to fly his first mission as aircraft commander on a routine refueling mission over the Mediterranean Sea.
"We normally know 24 to 48 hours out when we're going to do a flight," he said. "When we showed up, our (mission) binder (still) had all the information from the previous (cancelled) flight."
Henderson said what information they did have was the refueling track, the time of the rendezvous and the call sign of the receiver, a C-17 Globemaster III from the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing C-17 that had left Iraq at about 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. The Air Guard's mission was unique as the majority of its C-17 flights are to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Facility in Germany.
"Our crews are able to make changes to meet the needs of the Air Force as the mission dictates," said Lt. Col. David Buck, a Mississippi Air National Guardsman spokesperson. "There was a lot of scrambling they had to do to make this mission happen."
The same can be said of the crews at Mildenhall.
"The maintainers and my crew worked unbelievably fast because we realized how critical the mission was," Henderson said. "We basically planned it from scratch." The KC-135 launched from RAF Mildenhall at 6:30 a.m., and passed more than 16,000 gallons of fuel to the C-17 over the England-Scotland border. Buck said the C-17 arrived in Maryland just before 3 p.m. GMT.
On the trip back to RAF Mildenhall, Henderson's crew ran into a snow storm that required them to circle the base before landing on a runway that had just been cleared by a snow plow.
Henderson said the refueling mission saved the C-17 crew roughly three hours it would have taken for them to land and refuel.
"We weren't the ones carrying (the injured troops), but who knows? We might have saved them a few hours that made the difference between life and death," Henderson said. "But then I though t to myself after we landed that I get to go home today while the guys in the back of that plane are fighting for their lives. It was sobering."
Not all heroes one on the front.
This was an RAF squadron? Or USAF?
Not all heroes are on the front.
Miss. Air National Guard.
US AF Unit based at Mildenhall RAFB, UK.
Miss again. Active-duty AF stationed in England. They were refueling a ANG C-17
Roger that. thx.
You said that well, my FRiend. Our military is magnificent and those traitors in the House are stabbing them in the back even as they continue the mission. God Bless the troops and G**D*** Congress.
My bad. Skimmed the article. Had to go walk the pooch.
God Bless America and our soldiers in their time of need. And God Bless George Bush.
Just a photo found on google, but the planes are correct.
Agreed with all of it.
I would add that we (and I include myself in this) sometimes give the REMF a hard time for not being the ones ducking bullets every day. But the truth be told... it takes everybody.
Supplies of bullets and water and medicine need to flow with every bit of urgency as with the guys pulling the trigger on the front line. When they pull the trigger their rifle needs to go "bang". When they get hit the corpsman needs to have the supplies to dress his wound.
and... when he's being flown back home, somebody needs to give his airplane some gas. And yeah... a few hours really do matter.
Thank you gentlemen. For doing what you do.