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Pacific Airmen deploy to OIF, OEF

Airman 1st Class David Zheng and Staff Sgt. Joshua Garcia board a contract aircraft at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007.  More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  Both Airmen are assigned to 18th Wing Public Affairs.  U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Airman 1st Class David Zheng and Staff Sgt. Joshua Garcia board a contract aircraft at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007. More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Both Airmen are assigned to 18th Wing Public Affairs. U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Cathy Breingan boards a contract aircraft at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007.  More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  Sergeant Breingan is assigned to Headquarters PACAF at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.  U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Cathy Breingan boards a contract aircraft at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007. More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Sergeant Breingan is assigned to Headquarters PACAF at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Fitzgerald holds his 3-month-old son Joshua prior to deploying to Balad Air Base, Iraq, from Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007.  More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  Sergeant Fitzgerald is with the 18th Communications Squadron.  U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Fitzgerald holds his 3-month-old son Joshua prior to deploying to Balad Air Base, Iraq, from Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007. More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces left Kadena for Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Sergeant Fitzgerald is with the 18th Communications Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Douglas Nall checks Airman Jonathan Bruchal's ID against the passenger manifest at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007.  More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces deployed from the base to Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.   Sergeant Nall is with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Kadena and Airman Bruchal is with the 735th Air Mobiliity Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.  U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

Tech. Sgt. Douglas Nall checks Airman Jonathan Bruchal's ID against the passenger manifest at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, 2007. More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces deployed from the base to Southwest Asia to support operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Sergeant Nall is with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Kadena and Airman Bruchal is with the 735th Air Mobiliity Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Dani Johnson

KADENA AB, Japan -- More than 240 Airmen from seven bases in Pacific Air Forces deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 2, to several locations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"Kadena is the staging base for aggregate air into CENTCOM," said Maj. Aaron Booth, Kadena installation deployment officer. "The aircraft picked Airmen up at Eielson (Air Force Base, Alaska) flew here and then Airmen from here, Hickam (Air Force Base, Hawaii), Andersen (Air Force Base, Guam), Misawa (Air Base, Japan) and Yokota (Air Base, Japan) will board to go forward."

Aggregate air is contracted aircraft and allows Airmen to deploy straight to the AOR without transiting through commercial airports.

"Aggregate air saves the military money and is much easier on the Airmen," explained Major Booth. "If the Airman has to travel by other means they have to go the long way through the United States, this way they fly the shortest route direct to the AOR."

For some this was their first deployment.

"This is awesome and I'm ready to go," said Capt. Jason Schmidt, deploying as part of a PERSCO (personnel support to contingency operations) team from 15th Mission Support Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. "It's my first time in nine years and I expect it will be busy, hot and the people will be motivated."

For others, they have been there before.

"It's my second trip to the AOR," said Senior Airman Robert McCall, an 18th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "Last time I went to Kuwait and this time I'm headed to Ali Base, Iraq.

"It's going to be interesting and I have no idea what is in store," the Airman added. "I'm going to go with the flow and just see how it goes."

For many, the sacrifices of deploying are visible.

"I'm due in six weeks so he's going to miss seeing his third child born," said Tech. Sgt. Leenette Joseph with the Erwin Professional Military Education Center of the deployment of her husband Master Sgt. Robinson Joseph, 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We knew what we signed up for; so this happens sometimes."

Many Airmen and commanders came to the terminal to see their fellow Airmen off.

"I hate to see them go but it will be an awesome experience and a growing experience. It's what we do," said Col. Terri Reusch, 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander. "There is a part of me that wishes I was going."

More than 55 Airmen from Kadena left September 2, the first of three scheduled aggregate air missions out of the base for Air and Space Expeditionary Force 9/10 rotation. More than 500 from the base are tasked to deploy this rotation.