319th lieutenant hits career milestone

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Valentine
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
1st Lt. Aaron S. Chamberlain, from the 319th Special Operations Squadron, recently surpassed 1,000 combat hours over 190 sorties, while deployed with his unit in Bagram, Afghanistan.

"Chamberlain is an exceptional officer and sets the example for others to follow," said Lt. Col. Patrick Daley, 319th SOS commander.

"Other U-28 aircrew has done this in the past, but it is a very rare occurrence for aviators, especially a lieutenant," said Daley "To put it in perspective, I also passed 1,000 combat hours this deployment, but after 17 years of service compared to Aaron's three years."

"Our heavy deployment cycle drives this type of performance and no one does it better than the 319th SOS and our sister squadron, the 34th SOS," said Daley.

The 319th SOS shares worldwide U-28 combat operations with the 34th SOS, completing the first-ever unit deployment for the 1st Special Operations Wing.

"It's our first reconstitution since we stood up and every four months we will be rotating out with the 34th SOS," said Daley.

"U-28 squadrons are the most deployed flying units on Hurlburt, Cannon, Mildenhall, and Kadena. We also fly about three times as many combat hours as the rest of the 1st Special Operations Wing combined," Daley added. "We have been deployed at this rate for the past six years continuously."

Chamberlain, a combat systems officer for the U-28 aircraft, whose actual flying hours add up to 1208.6, attributes this unusually high number to the unit's deployment tempo and his ability to get trained up quickly.

"We all have a lot of combat hours but I was lucky enough to deploy as soon as I got to the 319th and it's been non-stop ever since," Chamberlain said."I work with a group of great hard-working and dedicated men and women".

Capt. Catherine Brewer, a squadron executive officer, who also works with Chamberlain, said he's always working on something to help out the team.

He is incredibly smart and inquisitive, she explained.

"This past deployment, he figured out how to help other air assets with their systems by integrating our tactics with theirs, to form a smooth working relationship with them."

"He gets the job done and gets it done right the first time, which is essential in our line of work. He also has a great sense of humor and he's just an all-around stand-up guy," she said.

Chamberlain, who received his commission through ROTC at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., graduated with a degree in Aerospace

Engineering. He said, his inspiration for joining the Air Force is credited to his grandfather, who served in the Army during World War II.

While in college, Chamberlain said he was fascinated with the clandestine aspect of the U-28 mission and wanted to be a part of it ever since.

As a CSO, Chamberlain is responsible for one of two sensor systems within the U-28 manned aircraft, which provides enhanced tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces, Brewer explained.

"We provide the best intelligence available to ground troops and other air assets. It's a difficult and challenging job but Chamberlain excels at what he does," Brewer added.

According to Daley, the 319th has flown combat sorties continuously for nearly 2,000 days until a brief stand-down after a fatal accident in Djibouti, Africa earlier this year, when flying stopped for about 48 hours.

Chamberlain said, "down range, I know I'm supporting the guys with boots on the ground to get home safe. It's been a great experience so far, both the mission and people. I'm just glad to be a part of it all".