LATHAM, NY (10/25/2013)(readMedia)-- A small unit of New York Army National Guard aviators who fly the military's C-12 transport plane are heading for Fort Hood, Texas before deploying to the Horn of Africa in November.
The eight Soldiers assigned to Detachment 20 Operational Support Airlift Agency will in-process at Fort Hood before deploying to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
The Soldiers will provide air transportation and cargo support for the United States Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa, which is based at Camp Lemonnier. They will be away from home for about 11 months.
A short farewell ceremony was held for the Soldiers on Friday at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Albany International Airport.
"This is a small group, but it is a group of seasoned professionals," Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York, told the Soldier's families. "It's a great mission. It's an important mission."
The detachment consists of six warrant officer pilots and two administrative and operations sergeants. The most inexperienced pilot has 2,300 hours of flight time while the most experienced pilot has over 21,000 hours of experience as a pilot, said Chief Warrant Officer Kent Wagner, the detachment commander.
The Operational Support Airlift Agency is a joint Active Army and Army National Guard entity which provides passenger transport for Army and other military passengers within the United States.
The Latham-based Detachment 20 operates a C-12 based at the Latham flight facility. The C-12 is the military version of the Beechcraft Super King Air turboprop aircraft which can carry up to 13 passengers depending on the model and configuration.
The unit deployed to Afghanistan in 2009/2010 where the Soldiers flew specially configured C-12s designed to spot improvised explosive devices from the air. The detachment also deployed to Columbia in 2006 to support U.S. operations in that country.
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