'Screaming Eagles' perform leaflet drop
By Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 05, 2007
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Under the low lights of the cargo hold, Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Bohl and Tech. Sgt. Kevin Letz, 40th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters, watched with night vision through opposite troop doors for any indication of enemy fire during a recent leaflet drop mission over Afghanistan.
As the pilots maneuvered their way through the mountains of Afghanistan, Senior Airmen William Moody and Airman 1st Class Jacob Medina, 40th EAS loadmasters, raised the troop door, revealing the mountains close below as they prepared to drop 300,000 leaflets to the ground below.
"These types of missions are just as critical as any other," said Lt. Col. Michael Zick, 40th EAS commander. "By warning the local population to stay away from the enemy, we keep them out of harm's way as the ground forces push forward to engage and defeat the enemy.
"This displays our dedication to the well being of the Afghan people, while also affirming our commitment to ridding them of the enemy threat to Afghanistan."
Earlier in the night, the crew members of the aircraft performed several actions to prepare for their mission.
Hydraulic systems whined and engines roared as the propellers cut through the air creating a deafening tone and causing the cargo craft to rumble.
The load crew continued to monitor hydraulic and pneumatic systems for any errors as the aircraft taxied toward the runway for takeoff.
"We perform constant checks of the aircrafts system during the entire flight," Airman Moody said.
"Ensuring the aircraft is functioning properly and safely is always important," Sergeant Bohl said.
"But with this mission, the area we are flying in and the maneuvers the pilots will be using, the safety and functionality are of an even greater importance than ever.
"Not only are we avoiding any possibility of the aircraft going down, we are also avoiding going down in an area the enemy is known to operate," he said.
"Normally we transport people or cargo throughout the area of responsibility," said Maj. Ken Ostrat. "This mission gives us a chance to directly affect the lives of non-combatants in a conflict area."
The crew made one stop along the way to refuel their aircraft and load the leaflets, packed in cardboard boxes so that they will easily disburse over their intended areas. During their stop, the crew set up static lines that would pull the boxes open as they were thrown from the aircraft.
"Leaflets can be used to send many different messages to a variety target groups. In this case, they were being used to give a general warning to the local populace to stay away from the enemy, so we can avoid injuring innocent civilians during planned I Security Assistance Force operations", Colonel Zick said.
Once the leaflets were set up and the aircraft fueled, the mission continued on as the C-130's pilots steered the aircraft toward the runway and awaited an all clear from ground forces.
Once the all clear was received, the crew continued on their mission.
As the aircraft flew over the intended drop zone and the green light was given, the crew tossed the boxes out one after another. Each ripped open and the leaflets fell to the ground like snow.
Once all the boxes were thrown, the pilots turned the aircraft around and headed back home, mission accomplished.