Members of 167th Air Wing are called up

April 15, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Charles J. Enders III and his wife had planned a New Orleans vacation.

Instead, he'll spend his time off in Europe. But it is not exactly a dream vacation.

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First of all, his wife will remain behind at their home east of Charles Town, W.Va. And instead of sightseeing in Paris or Rome, he'll be flying a cargo plane in the war-torn Balkans.

Enders, a lieutenant colonel in the Martinsburg, W.Va.-based 167th Airlift Wing, will lead a mission to aid refugees from Kosovo. He is one of about 30 people from the air unit who will leave this afternoon for Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Although it comes during the most significant American military action in Europe since World War II, it won't be a new experience for Enders. This will be his fifth tour of duty near Yugoslavia this decade.


"I practice for this on a daily basis," he said. "If anybody can get it done successfully, we can. It's another chapter in the book."

While he is disappointed he will have to put off that vacation, Enders said there is a higher duty.

"It's a job that needs doing," he said. "We're going to do it."

The C-130 that is headed for Europe includes two air crews, a maintenance detachment, logistics personnel and crew chiefs. In all, about 30 people from the 167th Airlift Wing will join the mission.

Enders, 52, will command the Martinsburg force, which will join other units in Operation Shining Hope. Flying missions from Ramstein Air Base and perhaps from bases in Italy, the crew will deliver humanitarian aid to thousands of refugees who have fled Kosovo.

Enders said he will not know the details of the mission until he arrives in Germany.

"They need the airplane. They need us. And we're going to report," he said. "But we haven't been given much information beyond that."

Enders is one of several Tri-State area residents from various reserve units who has served in the Balkans during the last few years.

Nancy Reamy had been in the Army and the Army Reserves for 25 years when she was called to serve in Operation Joint Endeavor in July 1996.

Reamy, 58, who recently retired from the 1007th Maintenance Co. with the rank of sergeant 1st class, was sent to fill another unit stationed in Kapsovar, Hungary. She helped keep track of parts and supplies for helicopters and other aircraft used in the Bosnian peacekeeping operation.

"I'm glad I did it, but I was also glad when it was over," she said.

The West End resident said the hardest part was the boredom. She spent more than six months cooped up on the military base.

Reamy's advice to reservists who may be called to the Balkans is to take plenty of reading material and be prepared to entertain themselves.

She added one more thing: "You've taken the easy money. Go take the hard money now."

Michael Ramsey, a Shippensburg, Pa., resident who works at Letterkenny Army Depot in civilian life, was sent to help a Baltimore-area reserve unit from January to October 1997.

Ramsey was stationed in Germany, where he helped solve problems of reservists who served in Bosnia.

Ramsey, 47, said he would have expected to be sent to a foreign country when was in the Army - but not as a reservist.

"It was quite a shock. At the tail end of my career, the chances of something like that happening are not as great," he said.

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-- Tri-State Reserve units wait for word

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