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Guard's Polar airlifters praised for their DEEP FREEZE Airmanship

Maj. David Lafrance, a LC-130 Hercules pilot for the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, surveys a remote camp in Antarctica Nov. 4 before landing there to transport a critically injured Australian expeditioner to medical care. The Wing's citizen-Airmen flew more than 8.7 million pounds of cargo and 3,800 passengers during nearly 300 missions in support of the 2008-2009 Operation Deep Freeze season that ended Feb. 28. (Photo by the New York National Guard) (Released)

Maj. David Lafrance, a LC-130 Hercules pilot for the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, surveys a remote camp in Antarctica Nov. 4 before landing there to transport a critically injured Australian expeditioner to medical care. The Wing's citizen-Airmen flew more than 8.7 million pounds of cargo and 3,800 passengers during nearly 300 missions in support of the 2008-2009 Operation Deep Freeze season that ended Feb. 28. (Photo by the New York National Guard) (Released)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- The men and women of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing here recently received high praise for their airmanship at the conclusion of the 2008-2009 season of Operation Deep Freeze.

Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), the U.S. military's operational and logistical support of the National Science Foundation's scientific research activities in Antarctica, ended Feb. 28. Lt. Gen. Chip Utterback, 13th Air Force and Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica commander, deemed the ODF season a resounding success.

"It's easy to take for granted what the Airmen of the 109th Airlift Wing do every year in Antarctica, but we never should," said General Utterback. "They may make it look easy, but it takes remarkable airmanship to maintain and operate the LC-130 [Hercules] in the extreme conditions of Antarctica. From the successful injured Australian rescue to the nearly 300 ice missions they flew this season, we're proud to have the guardsmen of the 109th on our joint team."

The Wing's citizen-Airmen flew more than 8.7 million pounds of cargo and 3,800 passengers during their almost 300 missions this ODF season.

A highlight, said official here, was the highly successful transport of an injured Australian expeditioner out of Antarctica.

A ski-equipped LC-130 aircrew landed on an unprepared surface at a remote camp in Antarctica. The seriously injured patient was medically evacuated to Hobart, Australia where he received medical treatment.

Utterback said the successful season is indicative of the high readiness of the U.S. military and its partners in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.

"To be able to use our military forces to further the scientific efforts in Antarctica - efforts that benefit all the people of the world - is really gratifying," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of our entire team's efforts this season."

"We appreciate Lt. Gen. Utterback's recognition for our support to the National Science Foundation and service to this great nation." said Col. Anthony German, Wing commander. "The men and women of the 109th Airlift Wing are skilled, dedicated and display unrivaled airmanship. We are proud to be a part of the 13th Air Force team," he said.