The last members of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force’s redeployment group departed an air base in Southwest Asia Feb. 10, thus ending Japan’s airlift support of Iraqi reconstruction after almost five years. “I’m proud of our airmen to conclude this historical operation of JASDF,” said Col. Isami Sagae, the redeployment group commander. A total of 3,600 JASDF personnel had worked alongside coalition forces since 2004, providing airlift for the coalition and UN via JASDF C-130 transports. After the mission ended, more than a hundred JASDF personnel had remained behind to restore the facilities that they used and ship equipment back to Japan. The JASDF’s overseas airlift mission was a historic first in terms of duration. Col. Paul Feather, vice commander of USAF’s 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, said the Japanese personnel “played a huge role” in the success of the airlift mission from the base. “They’ve just done an outstanding job,” he added. (386th AEW report by SSgt. Thomas J. Doscher)