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8,000 mission milestone
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Members of the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo after flying the unit's 8,000th mission in this area of responsibility June 25. This is just the latest achievement in the history of the unit. The squadron will reach another milestone in August when it marks 20 continuous years in this AOR. U.S. Air Force photo
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RJs hit 8,000 missions in AOR

Posted 7/2/2010   Updated 7/2/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Capts. Patrick Cordova and Carla Gleason
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


7/2/2010 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here flew its 8,000th mission in this area of responsibility June 25, hitting a significant milestone in the unit's history.

It may not sound like much to some, but when you factor in that the entire RC-135 V/W Rivet Joint fleet, based at Offutt AFB, Neb., as part of the 55th Wing, hovers at around 17 air frames, with only 12 of the aircraft available at any given time for missions, one may begin to see the extremely high operations tempo the crews endure. Add to this equation that at least two RJs recently celebrated more than 50,000 flight hours with several others on the cusp of that milestone.

"A milestone like this is a total team effort," said Lt. Col. Richard M. Rosa, 763rd ERS commander. "Absolutely critical to making this mission happen is the extraordinary work done by our maintenance personnel, often under the most demanding and challenging conditions a person can imagine. On many days they seem to perform miracles that allow us to execute this mission."

At the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, home of the 763rd ERS, units conduct operations around the clock, seven days a week in order to support the troops on the ground in the AOR. Some missions are visible - B-1s go screaming out through the night, C-17s climb their way into the sky at all hours making runs across the desert and back again, medical units care for the sick and wounded and civil engineering squadrons put up buildings and runways in record time. But some missions, like the 763rd ERS', aren't as visible, and that's crucial to their success.

Many times for this squadron "out of sight, out of mind" often means "mission accomplished."

"On every mission, I think of the people we'll be supporting, the patriots who leave their friends and families to answer their nation's call," said Staff Sgt. Cody Niemi, airborne mission supervisor. "Those are the people we're serving. Every time we fly, our job is to provide intelligence that helps them do their job or watch over them to keep them safe. We've had many missions when we warned of (improvised explosive devices) or ambushes and kept troops from running headlong into them. We act as their silent guardian; a watchful protector."

The RC-135 V/W Rivet Joint is a signal intelligence platform that collects, analyzes, reports and exploits enemy transmissions. The mission crew can then forward information to awaiting aircraft or to ground commanders.

Roadside bombs detected in Afghanistan before they're allowed to do their intended damage, or helicopters that make it safely from one point to another, may not make front page news, but the lives saved, missions completed and assets saved are priceless, and you can chalk that up to the RJ crews.

"It is amazing to see the impact that we have on the daily combat operations in this area of responsibility," said Capt. Andrew Colson, 763rd ERS tactical coordinator. "Every crewmember, from nose to tail, is dedicated to accomplishing the mission toward providing a stable government in Afghanistan and ensuring that our enemies there can no longer threaten our country."

"Our platform defines low density, high demand in many ways," said Colonel Rosa. "It's not only about the iron on the ramp , it's about the highly trained military professionals ... the people who make this mission happen. They're the real low density, high demand asset."

The crew, consisting of the cockpit members, electronic warfare officers, intelligence operators, cryptological specialists and airborne systems maintenance personnel were in high spirits June 25 when the flight marking the 8,000 sortie benchmark touched down.

"At the beginning of each flight, I make a personal commitment to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission," said Capt. John Isacco, 763rd ERS aircraft commander. "Without saying anything aloud, it's obvious that everyone in this squadron has made that same commitment 8,000 times. It's great to be part of an organization that puts individual interests aside for a greater purpose."

"It's a big milestone and I'm honored to be a part of it," said Capt. Matthew Roberts, 763rd ERS integration officer. "We have been saving the lives of our brothers and sisters in harm's way for 8,000 missions now and will continue for as long as it takes. Every mission is an incredible team effort and I can't think of a more rewarding job in the Air Force."

"It was an honor to be part of the Rivet Joint's 8,000th mission, but the credit really belongs to the 7,999 crews that came before," said Sergeant Niemi. "Thousands of men and women over the last 20 years have made this a valued and much requested platform. This is a prime example of why we will win the war. The faces change but the mission never stops. We will outlast the enemy; we will win this war."

The squadron will reach another historical milestone in August when it marks 20 continuous years in this AOR .



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