BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Aug. 9, 2009) -- A team of Airmen airdropped an M198 artillery piece to an Army unit in the remote eastern part of the country Aug. 8.

The 155mm howitzer weighed just over 10 tons rigged and loaded onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Missouri Air National Guard.

The mission was the first of its kind since U.S. officials announced additional forces would be deployed to Afghanistan in support of current operations.

"Five good chutes, that's all we could ask for," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Gifford, a joint airdrop inspector from the New York ANG. "It means the Army loaders did their job right, and we did our job right and everything went according to plan."

Gifford was onboard the C-130 to ensure the enormous cargo pallet would exit the aircraft properly and safely. He and the loadmasters - Missouri Air Guardsmen Staff Sgt. Ed Huff and Master Sgt. Dennis Mowry - loaded the howitzer from one location and airdropped it to the crew waiting below.

"Anything the guys on the ground need to do their job we get to them - beans, bullets and sometimes artillery pieces," said Mowry, a 34-year Air Force veteran. "This was just our way of helping out in the war. Now that the Soldiers have that howitzer, they have something bigger to shoot back with."

The crew of the 36-foot long cannon will have the ability to send high-explosive shells at insurgents threatening the peace and security of the Paktika Province.

Airlift is an essential part of operations in Afghanistan, where the mountainous region can delay or even prevent delivery convoys, said Lt. Col. Dave Koltermann, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander from the New York Air National Guard.

"Airlift gives us the ability to get cargo anywhere on the planet," said Koltermann. "It gets troops off the roads and rather than risking a convoy, we can fly cargo anywhere it needs to go. This was a joint effort by the Army and Air Force...all working seamlessly to help the troops on the ground."