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429 Squadron flies last troops out of Afghanistan

Lt.-Col. Jean Maisoneuve, Commanding Officer of 429 “Bison” Transport Squadron, told members of his squadron that their efforts in support of the troops on the ground in Afghanistan made him very proud. Photo by Ross Lees

Lt.-Col. Jean Maisoneuve, Commanding Officer of 429 “Bison” Transport Squadron, told members of his squadron that their efforts in support of the troops on the ground in Afghanistan made him very proud. Photo by Ross Lees

By Ross Lees
There was reason for celebration and remembrance as the final CC-177 Globemaster III crew from 429 “Bison” Transport Squadron arrived home at 8 Wing, Trenton, after delivering the last 100 troops out of Afghanistan.

8 Wing Commander Col. David Lowthian said he was proud of the teamwork demonstrated by all 8 Wing personnel involved in the mission to Afghanistan, noting that 8 Wing’s contribution started with the CC-130 Hercules with 429 and 436 squadrons and ended with the CC-117 Globemaster III.

“If you were to call the CC-130 Hercules the workhorse for our troops in Afghanistan, we could say the CC-177 Globemaster was the lifeline for our troops that operated in Afghanistan,” he said as members of 429 Squadron gathered to welcome the last CC-117 crew home Tuesday, March 18.

Maj. Troy Paisley of 429 Squadron speaks with Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp and 8 Wing Commander Col. David Lowthian upon the return of CC-117 Globemaster 704 from flying the last 100 troops out of Afghanistan March 18. Photo by Ross Lees

Maj. Troy Paisley of 429 Squadron speaks with Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp and 8 Wing Commander Col. David Lowthian upon the return of CC-117 Globemaster 704 from flying the last 100 troops out of Afghanistan March 18. Photo by Ross Lees

Representing the Minister of National Defence, Daryl Kramp, Prince Edward-Hastings MP, said he was delighted to be able to express in person the gratitude felt by the people of the Quinte region, the province and the entire country for the great job done by members of the Canadian Armed Forces in general and those at 8 Wing in particular.

“I’ve experienced the highs and lows of what you’ve done,” he stated. “I’ve been here for some of the repatriations – the horrible price that has been paid – but also the accomplishments, over 32,000 troops and 65 million pounds of freight to Kabul, Kandahar and Bagram airfields in direct support of coalition forces. That’s absolutely incredible and something you should be so proud of.”

Nearly three weeks after the delivery of the first CC-177 Globemaster, Lt.-Col. Jean Maisonneuve flew the first CC-177 combat mission into Afghanistan on August 29, 2007. Col. Lowthian, who was also at 8 Wing at the time, recalled how quickly the first CC-117 was introduced to the mission.

“From that point onward, we worked our way up to one-week sustainment flights or more if required,” he added. “We repatriated our troops, we conducted relief-in-place missions, deployed-in-place missions, and very important missions which highlighted the teamwork, team-building and hard work and partnerships of all involved. I want to highlight the importance of that teamwork behind this operation and the one and only important part of this mission – to support our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Congratulations! Mission accomplished.”

CAF personnel prepare to empty the last CC-177 Globemaster aircraft used to fly personnel out of Afghanistan. Photo by Ross Lees

CAF personnel prepare to empty the last CC-177 Globemaster aircraft used to fly personnel out of Afghanistan. Photo by Ross Lees

Since that first flight, 429 Transport Squadron has not stopped.

“Over 700 missions we’ve flown in support of our troops in theatre and close to 17,000 hours of flight. It’s the first time we’ve resupplied troops in combat since Korea. Congratulations! You make me very proud!”

429 “Bison” Transport Squadron has been an integral contributor to the mission in Afghanistan since January 2002 when they participated as part of OPERATION Apollo, the first Canadian deployment in the campaign against terrorism.

Between January and August 2002, the CC-130 Hercules Tactical Airlift Detachment (TAL Det) logged over 1,800 operational flying hours on more than 320 missions in the Arabian Gulf Region.

During the same period, the Squadron helped to deliver two million kilograms of cargo and 3,700 passengers to destinations in the theatre of operations in support of coalition forces.

The first Canadian tactical flight into Kandahar occurred in 2003. 429 Squadron successfully delivered 30,000 pounds of material to a bombed-out 3,900 foot long runway under direct small arms and rocket fire.

With the introduction of the CC-117 Globemaster III in 2007, 429 Squadron’s role expanded to providing the critical air bridge between Canada and Afghanistan with regular sustainment flights in support of operations. Critical to the success of the war effort, 429 Squadron flew 746 missions totaling close to 17,000 hours of flight. These missions saw the successful delivery of 32,000 troops and 65 million pounds of freight to Kabul, Kandahar and Bagram airfields in direct support of coalition forces.

From 2007 to Match 18, 2014, 429 Squadron has deployed hundreds of individuals totaling 18,937 person days and 541 missions. In addition to the 541 missions, the Squadron has also conducted 285 sustainment flights. Each flight involved a crew of six and took an average seven to 10 days to complete.

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