CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
During the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many Airmen were asked to fulfill roles that did not typically fit their daily job descriptions.
One great example of this would be logistics readiness squadrons from across the U.S. Air Force covering convoy routes throughout the Middle East. These missions were potentially highly dangerous, but many Airmen cited them as helping to form a strong sense of camaraderie.
“I think that, for the most part, a lot of the guys who got to go on the convoys really enjoyed their time,” said Master Sgt. Justin Myers, 27th Special Operations LRS non-commissioned officer-in-charge of vehicle operations. “We got to see so much more of the war than most other people. Collectively, I’m sure that we’ve covered almost every single piece of road that’s out there.”
“I did 14 total missions which spanned over 10,000 miles in Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Graf, 27 SOLRS, NCOIC of box support. “Our convoy team wound up posting the most missions and miles.”
Many of the stories these Airmen share come from their incredible experiences during the long trips.
“From 2004 to 2012, logistics Airmen did a lot of convoy missions,” said Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Hatch, 27 SOLRS NCOIC of equipment support, ground transportation. “We would be stationed in Kuwait and truck up to Iraq delivering cargo to different forward operating bases in between.”
Logistics Airmen achieved a great deal more than driving a truck from one point to another during their missions.
“We were going from Iraq to Kuwait to pick up brand new armored Humvees,” said Tech. Sgt. Jacob Green, 27 SOLRS vehicle operations control center supervisor. “On the way back, we began to take some small arms fire. When we got back, we looked over the vehicles. We didn’t know it at the time, but a bullet went into the door where our convoy commander sat, perfectly lined up with his heart. If we had been in the older vehicles, it would have killed him. Guaranteed.”
Overall, the community embraces their past, danger and all. Though many lives were lost, many of the LRS Airmen enjoyed running the missions.
“During my last tour, I got to close down some of the bases that I went to as an airman 1st class,” Green said. “It was a very good experience and made me respect what I have.”
Generally speaking, Myers said most of the Airmen agree it was a good experience. “We did what we were supposed to do, including dealing with the danger that was there.”
While the line-running mission is over for LRS Airmen, many of those who had the experience still share their stories.
“Since the convoy mission is over now, we do a lot of storytelling here at the shop,” Hatch said. “A lot of our new guys didn’t get a chance to experience that. We can’t do a great job of painting the picture for them, so we got approval to build a convoy heritage and memorial cabinet.”
This cabinet holds not only plaques featuring fallen wingmen, but also equipment that was used during their missions. The heritage and memorial cabinet can be found at the 27 SOLRS ground transportation building.