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CV-22s return from first deployment with 8th SOS Homecoming

By Mona Moore, Northwest Florida Daily News
Reprinted with permission

CV-22s return from first deployment with 8th SOS Homecoming

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter

A U.S. Air Force crew chief from the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Unit marshals a CV-22 Osprey Nov. 12, Hurlburt Field, Fla. Six Ospreys returned from a three-month deployment to Southwest Asia and were welcomed home by their family, friends and co-workers.

The 8th Special Operations Squadron took a human owner’s manual with them on their first operational deployment with the CV-22 Osprey. Boeing contractor Julius Banks preferred to call himself the “Maytag repairman” for an aircraft that gave him very little to do.

Banks did get a lot of questions while the Air Force’s only operational CV-22 squadron was in Iraq, but not from the airmen he was there to help.

People who saw the Osprey did not know what to make of it.

“They thought it would take off like a rocket,” he said. “The question I got most often was ‘is it a helicopter or a plane.’”  His answer: “a tilt-rotor.”

The Osprey, which came to Hurlburt Field in 2007, combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft.

Capt. Matthew Braund chose to become a CV-22 pilot and was not disappointed.
“It’s a great plane,” he said, back from his first deployment.

Braund toted his Fender guitar along for his first deployment. He said he did not know how to play many songs and did not get much practice between Osprey flights.

The Osprey’s mission was to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces. Lt. Col. Matt Glover, squadron commander, said the mission was a success.

“I’m new to this business but I’m impressed with this airplane,” he said.

The squadron and “tilt-rotors” returned Thursday night, a day late thanks to Tropical Storm Ida, but there were no complaints in the hangar.

“You just kind of expect the unexpected,” said Wendy Sefzik as she corralled two very excited children.

“I’m excited to see my daddy,” said 3-year-old George, Jr. with a grin.

Wendy said the toughest part about husband, George’s deployments was trying to explain them to her son and 18-month-old daughter, Makylah. “The kids do not understand why daddy has to be gone for so long and it’s hard to explain that,” she said.

The five Schram kids listed many reasons they were glad to welcome dad, James, home. At least half of them were dinners he makes.

The Schram household was different with James deployed.

“We never get to eat dinner,” 7-year-old Megan said.

Mom, Heather corrected her saying they only get easy dinners, not the same as dad’s famous Korean ribs.

Her son, Zach added one more reason to the growing list, “Having another guy in the house.”

“Maytag repairman” Banks could not wait to get home to see his family and have a bag of kettle potato chips.

“That’s what he’s been begging for,” said wife, Josephine.

Thanks to the delayed return, Banks got his precious chips first. He was welcomed by friends and family and introduced Josephine’s 9-months-swollen belly as Jordan, the couple’s second son, before introducing the rest of the clan. Banks “deploys too much,” said his wife, but he made it home just in time for Jordan’s delivery.

The Sampson family brought a new member for Mirko Sampson to meet. Sampson said he missed the day-to-day things like picking Berkley, the family’s new Labrador, but got to participate in the name selection by e-mail.

His family just missed him.

Three-year-old Brayden ran to his dad, wrapped his arms around him and would not let go. His older brother, Justice, was just as elated to see his dad. The 15-year-old said his father had deployed when he was a kid, but he had very few memories of that time. This time, he would remember dad’s time away.

“It sucked,” he said, giving his dad another hug and then grabbing his dad's backpack and carrying it for him. (Nov. 2009)