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80 APS returns to Dobbins

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Eighty-eight members of the 80th Aerial Port Squadron returned to Dobbins Air Reserve Base last month after nearly a year on active duty working in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Happy families and friends patiently stood by as the reservists were officially welcomed home by Brig. Gen. Thomas Stogsdill, 94th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Steven Slick, 94th Mission Support Group commander, Lt. Col. John Fitter, 80th APS commander, and Chief Master Sgt. James West, 94th Airlift Wing command chief.

Lt. Col. Fitter thanked the squadron for a job well done and for their dedication to the mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I am extremely proud of every one of you and am glad to have you back home,” Lt. Col. Fitter told the group. “You did an outstanding job. You went above and beyond and did more than what you were deployed to do. We are all so happy to have you back home with your families and are looking forward to integrating you back into the unit. Welcome home.”

The deployment was the first for the 80th APS and it presented some challenges for the reservists and their families. “Leaving my family was hard,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph
Cordy who left behind his wife and three sons. “My wife is a full-time nursing student and runs her own business. I felt guilty leaving her with three boys to handle but she understood.”

Although he is a firefighter for Dekalb County, in the Air Force Reserve, Sergeant Cordy is a cargo specialist and regularly deals with exporting and importing supplies and equipment. However, while deployed, Sergeant Cordy worked primarily in passenger services handling troop movement for U.S. and Spanish service members heading to and from Iraq. “It was different but it was a good learning experience,” he said.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Sandra Wright, 80th APS first sergeant, the squadron is made up of several entities including a joint inspection section; an air terminal section; an operation center; a passenger services section; a ramp section; a cargo section; a fleet services section; and load planning section.

The mission of the squadron is to deploy trained personnel and serviceable equipment to provide aerial support of airland operations in high threat areas; operate c-air interface; augment aerial port of embarkation/aerial port of debarkation; and operate unit move, on-load and off-load locations.

Squadron members spent their deployment in several locations including Kuwait
International Airport, Kuwait; Manas International Airport, Kyrgyzstan; Rhein Main Air
Base, Germany; Pope Air Force Base, N.C.; Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan; and Dover Air Force Base, Del. before returning to Dobbins in staggered groups.

Sergeant Cordy drove from Dover AFB and headed straight for a football field in Henry County to see one of his sons play in a pony-league football championship game.
“My boys were totally surprised to see me,” he said. “And, when I got home the house was decorated. It was nice.”

The 80th APS was activated to active duty under the presidential authorization to call up members of Air Force Reserve Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Although the reservists will not continually rotate in and out as a squadron, according to Sergeant Wright, they will continue to support (air and space expeditionary force) missions as needed.