Air Force's "Flying Jennies" Make History

It's the end to what's being called a historic mission for members of the 815th Airlift Squadron, better know as the Flying Jennies.

Crew members returned to South Mississippi on Saturday after a month long mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military leaders say the trip marked the first war time mission for the new C-130-J.

"It's kind of surreal to go to some of the places you only see on the news," said pilot Dan Windham.

"We hit all the major cities in Iraq and Afghanistan," he added.

The Flying Jennies left with high hopes and came back in high spirits.

"I'm glad that we were finally able to go," said Windham."It's something that this wing has been pushing for awhile to take this new aircraft over there. I think we did a pretty good job over there."

"It's been quite an experience. We've had the opportunity to take the Air Force's newest air lifter into the [military conflict] and prove that it is the most capable C-130 that is in the fleet today," adds Darren Ray.

After 40 days in the Middle East, the crew was delighted to see the awaiting arms of family and friends and proud the mission was a success.

"We moved a lot of equipment. a lot of troops, a lot of injured people," said Master Sergeant Morton Smith. '"We felt good about what we were doing and because of the air craft we were able to go a lot further than the other aircraft and we could do it all one day."

As for the aircraft crew members say the new C-103J more than lived up to their expectations.

"This aircraft overall surpassed the other one by 40 to 45 percent as far as capabilities. We can do more and go further and higher. That's the great part about this air craft," said Smith. "To do what we did overseas and to watch the aircraft perform like it did and it made the entire crew and the community feel great about the aircraft."

Several members of the Flying Jennies said they were happy to contribute to both Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and welcome the chance to help again.