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From Tropics to Desert: The Air National Guardsmen from Puerto Rico are nearing the end of their first combat rotation to Southwest Asia, where they have found the work pace “unreal,” reports Air Force journalist Louis Arana-Barradas. But it wasn’t so much the pace—flying 30 missions a day—as the very different weather and dirt strip operations that required adaptation. The airmen of the 156th Airlift Wing routinely fly their C-130 tactical airlifters on US Southern Command counterdrug missions, but SWA operations placed even more stress on their 1960s vintage Hercules. One crew found itself in the middle of an airfield attack, when they tried to take off after unloading passengers and cargo at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. The runway full of unexploded ordnance, the crew shut down engines and sat out the attack, as security forces beat off the hour-long attack. Luckily the enemy forces did not hit the airlifter.