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News > Team McChord completes 500th, mishap-free Operation Deep Freeze mission
500 ODF missions
The crew of “Ice 11,” comprised of members from the 62nd and the 446th Airlift Wings, pause for a photo after flying the 500th mishap-free Operation Deep Freeze mission, Oct. 14, 2012, at Pegasus Field, Antarctica. Team McChord has been flying C-17 Globemaster III missions to Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation since 1999. (Courtesy photo)
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Team McChord completes 500th, mishap-free Operation Deep Freeze mission

Posted 10/17/2012   Updated 10/17/2012 Email story   Print story


62 & 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Offices

10/17/2012 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Airmen from the 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings, deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as part of the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, flew the 500th C-17 Globemaster III Special Assignment Airlift Mission into Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, Oct. 14.

ODF is a joint service operation in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and provides airlift support for the National Science Foundation's scientific research by transporting NSF cargo and personnel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. C-17 crews from McChord Field use Christchurch International Airport in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a base of operations.

The C-17, flying under the call sign "ICE 11," touched down on Pegasus White Ice runway Oct. 14, carrying NSF people and cargo to the icy research outpost. That mission marked the transporting of more than 40,000 passengers and nearly 45 million pounds of cargo to Antarctica in support of ODF since 1999.

"We are extremely proud of this milestone; 500 missions is a significant accomplishment," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander. "Team McChord's support to the National Science Foundation is an important and rewarding mission."

The crew on the 500th mission was a mix of Reserve and active-duty Airmen.

"I cannot be more proud of Team McChord and what they do for this nation and the U.S. Air Force," said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander. "Across the board, this total force works together not only during conflict, but during peacetime."

Reserve aircrew on the mission were Maj. John Caplinger, Maj. Heather Hout, and Master Sgt. Mark Riekena from the 313th Airlift Squadron, Tech. Sgt. John Touma, 97th AS, and Tech. Sgt. Erik Kaupa, 728th AS.

Another milestone set with this mission is that all 500 ODF missions have been completed without mishap.

"To have safely flown 500 missions in this unique environment is a great operational accomplishment for the C-17 aircrews and maintenance teams of the 304th EAS," said Lt. Col. Brent Keenan, 304th EAS commander. "Knowing that during these missions we have directly contributed to the advancement of scientific research and provided a lifeline to the isolated continent is a great feeling.

"I look forward to flying the next set of 500 missions," Keenan added.

A total of 48 missions are scheduled for the 2012-2013 season of ODF, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2013.

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