Thursday, September 3, 2009

Madison's million-gallon airman breaks record in Iraq

From Air Force Staff Sgt Jason M Klingbiel of Madison, who is deployed 6,400 miles from home at Sather Air Base, west of Baghdad.

Things are going well. Right now, I've been here in Iraq approximately
110 days, and have issued around 1,074,000 gallons of fuel - far
exceeding the previous record. The only "drought" in aircraft that
comes to mind was during the dust storm that hit this area the first
week of July, where the sky was practically orange from the dust in the
air, and it pretty much grounded most all the air traffic.

My replacement will be arriving soon. With new equipment, I can say
that we did receive a new R-11 fuel truck, but I imagine the need for
new equipment won't be great, especially with the eventual withdrawal
from the area.

Aircraft variety has definitely been one of this place's positive sides.
In addition to servicing our own aircraft, I have worked with aircraft
registered from the former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan,
Armenia, and Georgia, occasionally still wearing traces of their former
Aeroflot striping or the outline of the red star of the Soviet Air
Force, all chartered to air freight companies throughout the Middle
East. When the Royal Air Force left here back in July, they contracted
for an An-124, the Russian counterpart of our C-5 to airlift their
helicopters from here.

As for off-duty time, I've found myself most frequently visiting the
morale tent, to converse with family back home online. While there are
an assortment of other options, one classic piece of advice always comes
to mind - you can't breathe dirt or dust for that matter, and there's
certainly days here where there's a lot of dust in the air.

- Jason Klingbiel