Wing deploys first C-17 Guard aircrew

A C-17 Globemaster III sits on the flight line at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 167th
recently deployed an aircrew to the base to operate with the 379th Air Expeditionary
Wing. They were one of the first two Air National Guard crews to deploy there.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

A C-17 Globemaster III sits on the flight line at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 167th recently deployed an aircrew to the base to operate with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. They were one of the first two Air National Guard crews to deploy there.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A four-man, 167th aircrew now holds the distinction of being one of the first two Air National Guard C-17 crews to be deployed to Al Udeid Air Force Base, Qatar.

The crew, which consisted of Lt Col. Jeff Musser, a 167th pilot, Capt. David Groom, a 167th pilot, Master Sgt. Joseph Windle, a 167th loadmaster, and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Finley, a 167th loadmaster, were assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, July 11- Aug. 16.

While other ANG crews have flown in and out of Al Udeid, the 167th crew, along with a crew from the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, Miss. are the first ANG C-17 crews to be deployed to the wing, said Lt. Col. Martin Timko, the 167th Operations Group Commander.

"There had been Reserve participation in the past in these types of deployments at Al Udeid," said Timko. "However, one thing that they hadn't had, [until this deployment] was Guard participation. There were units volunteering to help out but there wasn't a mechanism to get them involved."

"They finally got it all figured out and decided on this year for the deployment," Timko added.

The inclusion of the ANG on C-17 deployments to Al Udeid is significant in that the base acts as a regional hub and jumping off point for ongoing United States military operations in the Middle East. Its proximity to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya and Syria makes it a priceless asset to the U.S. and its War on Terror.

According to Musser, the aircraft commander of the crew, his team was tasked pretty quickly open arriving in Qatar.

"We supported missions throughout the area," Musser said. "We made it to Jordan, Iraq Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Total, we logged roughly 43 flight hours and flew 22 sorties."

While deployed, the crew had to adapt to operating aircraft that were equipped with different systems and newer software in order to perform their job at a high level, Musser said.

"There were some theatre specific things that we had to learn," Musser said. "The learning curve was pretty quick though; we were able to get [accustomed] pretty quickly. I think it is a good testament to the Guard that we are able to do the job just as well as the active duty."