First Lt. Reid Wynans of the U.S. Air Force had made only one trip into Iraq as of last weekend, but expects to be spending much of his time in the war-torn country in the weeks ahead as the war comes to an end and rebuilding begins.
Wynans, 25, grew up in Lostine and graduated from Wallowa High School in 1995. He now is an officer and pilot for the U.S. Air Force, flying a C-17 Globemaster air transport.
Speaking Sunday from McCord Air Force base in Tacoma the day after returning to his home base after three weeks, Wynans said that he flew military supplies into Northern Iraq "at the end of March," which was his only flight into Iraq thus far. However, in the past two weeks, he's flown supplies six times into Afghanistan.
"It's interesting and exciting," said Wynans about his work. Though he admitted that it could be dangerous, for the most part an area is "relatively secure" and protected by "close air support" - fighters flying overhead - before C-17s are flown in. "We'll be busier in Iraq when the rebuilding effort starts, flying in people and supplies."
Wynans was in ROTC during his days at Oregon State University, graduating in 2000. After college, he entered active duty, first stationed in Mt. Home, Idaho, where he earned his private pilots license, before entering flight school.
Wynans is the son of Beulah Wynans, who still lives in Lostine, and the late Jim Wynans, who died several years ago. His mother, a former special education aid at Wallowa, was laid off because of budget cuts, but thanks to a scholarship is now a freshman at Eastern Oregon University, with plans to become a special education teacher.
"I'm very, very proud of him," she said of her officer son. She is also proud of daughter Jody Wynans, who is also in the ROTC program and graduating from Oregon State University this June. The whole family is excited about the fact that Jody, who will be a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, will be stationed at McCord Air Force base with her brother.
"I am really happy about it," said Lt. Reid Wynans. "That just doesn't happy very often."
The young pilot is looking forward to flying many times to Iraq in the near future, helping with the effort to put the country back together.
Wynans said he is committed to another 10 years in the U.S. Air Force, noting that when so much money is spent on training a pilot the military likes to keep him for awhile.
"Sometimes I think about growing up in a town as small as Lostine, and then I'm flying to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and I wonder, 'how did I get here," Wynans admits.