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  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Max Goldberg and Maj. John T. Stamm
  • 908th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8-10 November saw quite a bit of excitement here as more than 140 Airmen from the 908th Operations Group and the 908th Maintenance Group returned home to a sea of friends, family, and fellow Airmen after being deployed for more than four months.

The Airmen, arriving on four 908th Airlift Wing C-130 “Hercules” aircraft and one contracted commercial airliner, were part of the largest deployment in wing history as nearly 300 members deployed to locations all around the world over the past spring and summer.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of the 908th,” said Col. Craig W. Drescher, wing commander.  “Everyone performed exceptionally, and executed the mission down-range and at home with excellence.”

Everyone in the wing came together as they faced seemingly overwhelming odds.  Over the better part of the last two years, the wing not only prepared for the deployment and a potential re-mission, but did so amidst social-distancing and other safety protocols set in place to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.  The majority of the wing’s 1,200-plus members worked as two teams split between two unit training assemblies per month.

In addition to the wing’s roughly 200 full-time military and civilian members, several also served on orders for weeks on end to help fill in the gaps and accomplish what needed to be done.

“Many outside this organization thought we couldn’t pull it all off, that it couldn’t be done,” Drescher said as his eyes welled up with pride.  “Yeah, go ahead and tell me what else these Airmen can’t do.”

In the months leading up to their departure, the Airmen from both groups trained rigorously in preparation for their part in the deployment. They conducted a series of exercises that required close cooperation with several other units in the wing in order to enhance their mission capabilities and maintain readiness for the real world situations they would face overseas during this deployment.

“We had a lot of work to do leading up to this deployment,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Lewis, a loadmaster with the 357th Airlift Squadron. “On top of the physical work, we had to make sure we were in the right mindset to be away for as long as we were.”

The 908th OG and MXG Airmen hit the ground running as soon as they arrived at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. 908th OG Airmen flew more than 3,570 hours, transporting more than 14,800 passengers, and moving 3,359 pallets with more than 5,390 tons of cargo. In addition to these extensive sorties, members of the 908th OG also flew the final mission of the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in what would be the last C-130 H model to operate at Ali Al Salem.

“Our mission was to provide airlift capability so that all our people out there stayed supplied and had the resources they needed, when they needed them.” said Lewis. “It was great getting to do our job in a deployed environment, we dealt with cargo we don’t normally work with and we got the reward of providing vital supplies to our members across southwest Asia.”

The 908th MXG also played a vital role in keeping our airlift mission moving. With more than 8,000 maintenance actions completed, 908th Airmen enabled more than 1,900 successful combat sorties, transport of more than 5,390 tons of cargo, and the safe transport of more than 14,800 passengers throughout the course of their deployment.

Both the OG and MXG worked side-by-side with several other units in support of exercise Blue Marauder and joint exercise Bright Star. During Blue Marauder, 908th Airmen certified 14 air crew members on specialized fueling operations in an effort to enhance agile combat employment capabilities.

Exercise Bright Star saw members of the 908th working closely with joint and coalition forces at a forward deployed location. Throughout the course of this exercise, 14 sorties were flown with seven airdrops and 66 paratroop jumps.

The outstanding Airmen of the 908th not only carried out their mission effectively, but they went above and beyond their duties earning a litany of awards and recognitions. Awards were given to 908th Airmen as well as various sections and units.

Another highlight from this deployment was the exemplary Total Force Integration team work. The 908th deployed with a sister C-130H unit, the 166th Airlift Wing from the Delaware Air National Guard, and both units worked hand in hand with active duty Air Force members to execute and accomplish their tactical airlift mission.

Members of Alabama state and local government, and civic leaders from the local River Region were also on hand to welcome the Airmen home.  Lori E. Rasmussen, retired Air Force pilot and current director of External and Military Affairs for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, became emotional as she watched families reunite after spending months apart.

“I know first-hand how difficult deployments can be, especially on families,” she said.  “These military-connected families need the support of their local communities.  Everything from meals to car pools to a simple gesture of support to help make deployments a little more bearable for them during this time apart.  As a member of the MACC staff, I am privileged to live and work in such a supportive community that truly recognizes their sacrifice.”

This deployment will also stand out in the 908th’s history as it is recognized as possibly being the final deployment of the wing’s C-130 airlift mission.  Maxwell was named as the preferred location for the new MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter Formal Training Unit last November. As that becomes official, the 908th AW will divest itself of the C-130’s and execute the new mission.


The MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter is slated to replace the legacy platform, the UH-1N “Huey.” The new  mission would be to train pilots and special mission aviators in providing security and support for the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile fields spanning Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska.