I haven't been in combat before this, said Steindl, straightening his shoulders. "I'm not nervous; when you fly airplanes you develop confidence. We all rely on the training we receive to keep us safe and successful. We're all part of a team."
Mike Steindl isn't trying to make history. He's just trying to do his job. His Commander, Col. Anthony P. German, summed up the philosophy of the soldiers who will fly out.
"Our job is to be deployed until we're told to go home," said German. "This is our job. It's not that we enjoy going into combat, but this is what we do."
Serving his country is something Steindl knows well, since he grew up in a military family.
His father, Robert, who now divides his time between Glenville and Myrtle Beach, S.C., served in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years of active duty and 11 years in the reserves. Steindl said he has been in contact with his father since he found out about his deployment orders two months ago.
"He's obviously worried about me going, but he understands," said Steindl, blowing on his hands to warm them in the late March winds.
Hoping for support from home
On an impossibly sunny day that belied the fact the country is at war, Steindl squinted into the blue sky from the cramped cockpit of the Hercules parked at his home base in Scotia. Out on the runways, other military aircrafts took off and landed lightly during their own training runs. Steindl said he hopes to leave with the knowledge the local community, and the country at large, is behind them, keeping them in their thoughts and prayers.
"I haven't heard from anyone saying they don't support what we're doing," said Steindl, tapping the control panel dotted with a dizzying array of buttons and switches. "I won't get into the political side of it because that's not part of my job. I'm just here to do my job to support my country. I joined up because of my sense of duty. I'm proud about this opportunity to serve."