/ Published December 15, 2020
Photo Courtesy 1st Lt Josh Edelman
“I am an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and having the ability to see the missions we fly every day with the C-17, I noticed we were heavily involved in SOUTHCOM. Being a Spanish Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) scholar and wanting to be a part of the SOUTHCOM mission, I spoke with the aircrew of these missions and my leadership. In 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in a Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC)-directed mission that supported Joint Interagency Task Force SOUTHCOM (JIATF-S), whose mission includes countering illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. We transported Coast Guard assets and personnel into Central American countries, followed by the extraction of seized cocaine from the Central American region for destruction. My role as an aircrew member was to assist the Crew Chief on board and interpret/translate for all members throughout the trip. This included interactions with ground personnel, loading equipment, dealing with regular TDY duties (the hotels, transportation, airport, etc.) and assisting in any way I could.
On our last day, upon arrival in a Central American country, the aircraft was surrounded by armed security from the United States and the partner nation. Little did I know, we would be breaking a milestone for Air Mobility Command (AMC) and JIATF-S counter-drug efforts by delivering the largest shipment of seized cocaine in one trip by air, which was later extracted to the United States for incineration.
This was a great opportunity for me to utilize my language and culture knowledge while interacting with joint agencies, partner nation militaries, and local authorities. We were also greeted by a U.S. Ambassador and took a picture with her”.
-LEAP Scholar 1st Lt Josh Edelman-
551 E. Maxwell Blvd, Bldg 500, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112