Patriots' team plane transports U.S. troops from Horn of Africa

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Pats' team plane used to transport U.S. troops from Horn of Africa originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots' "No Days Off" mantra apparently applies to their team planes, as well.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently used one of the Patriots' Boeing 767 team planes to bring American troops home from deployment in the Horn of Africa, according to South Dakota's KELO

The 196th MEB National Guard unit had been stationed in the Horn of Africa -- which consists of the African nations Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia -- since August 2020. The Patriots' plane brought the unit back to Sioux Falls, S.D., where a welcome ceremony for the troops was planned.

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The Patriots use a charter service for their team planes during the offseason to keep them in use, and one of the charter service's clients is the DOD, according to team spokesman Stacey James.

"The (DOD) is using our planes to transport troops," James told KELO.

New England's team planes have served several other uses, as well: A Patriots plane transported 76 "healthcare heroes" from New England to this year's Super Bowl in February, while the "AirKraft" (named for team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft) famously transported 1.2 million N95 masks from China to Massachusetts last spring to support COVID relief efforts.

The planes even picked up a few commercial flights earlier this year, flying passengers between New England and Ireland on behalf of Eastern Airlines.

The "AirKrafts" will be back to transporting football players next month when the Patriots travel to Philadelphia for their second preseason game. Until then, don't be surprised if you see the Patriots' logo at an airport near you.