Thursday, September 21, 2017

Kentucky Guardsmen Deploy to Caribbean for Hurricane Maria Relief

By Air Force Lt. Col. Dale Greer 123rd Airlift Wing

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Sept. 21, 2017 — Seven special tactics airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing left here yesterday for the Caribbean, where they will open airfields so humanitarian aid can be delivered and residents can be evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the third major hurricane to hit the region in the past month.
Kentucky Airmen prepare for Caribbean hurricane assistance

A four-member team from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron deployed to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and a three-member team from the same unit went to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Aaron May, the squadron's enlisted manager for combat control.

The mission of both teams is the same, May said: clear the airfields of debris, open runways and taxiways, and establish air traffic control so military airlift can begin. The teams were prepared to parachute into the fields with chainsaws if necessary so they can remove fallen trees and other obstacles, allowing the C-130 aircraft that brought them to land safely and begin offloading rescue gear, he added.

The airmen also deployed with trucks, motorcycles and inflatable motor boats to assist with rescue operations, May said.

Busy Month

The deployment marks the third time in the past month that Kentucky Air National Guardsmen have mobilized in support of hurricane rescue operations in the Caribbean, said Air Force Col. David Mounkes, 123rd Airlift Wing commander. "Our airmen stand ready at all times to answer the call for help, and we are tremendously grateful to be able to provide this assistance again," he added. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the residents of these islands as they continue to weather an unprecedented hurricane season."
The Kentucky Air Guard deployed more than 80 airmen to Texas for Hurricane Harvey, establishing an aeromedical evacuation hub and saving 333 people stranded by flood waters in the Houston area. The unit later deployed 24 airmen for rescue operations following Hurricane Irma, helping to evacuate more than 1,000 U.S. citizens from the Dutch Caribbean Island of St. Maarten.

Army Maintainers Learn New Skills at ‘Maintenance Rodeo’

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Katie Ward, 633rd Air Base Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., Sept. 21, 2017 — The 558th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) hosted its first “Maintenance Rodeo” competition here, Sept. 19-20.

The timed competition featured six stations covering the company’s various tasks, including engine maintenance, radio antenna assembly, welding and fabrication, weapons maintenance, vehicle recovery and vehicle preventative checks and maintenance.


As watercraft maintainers, the company’s soldiers possess a variety of military occupational specialties. Teams of soldiers from different specialties worked together at each station in order to broaden their maintenance knowledge.

“We wanted to have a culminating event to cross-train our soldiers,” said Army Capt. Lavina Jackson, 558th Transportation Company commander.

Jackson added, “We wanted to mix ‘back-to-basics’ skills with what each soldier might do on a daily basis. Depending on their MOS, they’ve never done some of these tasks before. We hope this exposure gives them a better idea of Army maintenance as a whole.”

The company organized familiarization and training sessions prior to the competition to better prepare the soldiers for tasks outside of their specialties. During the rodeo, instructors were available to assist the teams as needed.

Learning New Skills

As a watercraft engineer, Army Spc. Zane Reynolds doesn’t handle a welding torch on a daily basis, so learning how to fabricate a steel bench was his favorite part of the competition.

“We have really good instructors, so it made it easier,” Reynolds said. “Often, other jobs correspond to what you do, so it gives a different perspective to do my job even better. I think dedicating training time this way gives soldiers specific hands-on training with things they might not otherwise learn.”
The sentiment of both soldiers and unit leadership suggests the “Maintenance Rodeo” may be back for another round in the future to showcase what an Army maintenance company can bring to the fight.

U.S., South Korean Chaplains Train Together at Beverly Herd Exercise

By Air Force Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos, 51st Fighter Wing

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, Sept. 21, 2017 — American military chaplains with the Air Force’s 51st Fighter Wing and South Korean air force chaplains conducted joint training at Osan Air Base here during Exercise Beverly Herd 17-3 held Sept. 18-21.
Chaplains meeting

The exercise enabled the American chaplains to train with their South Korean counterparts while practicing their own skills, said Air Force Chaplain (Maj.) John Boyer, 51st Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain.

“This exercise provides a great opportunity for [Air Force] chaplains to hone, deepen and develop their skills. But even just as important is that the South Korean chaplains are getting opportunities here that they don’t normally get,” Boyer said.

‘Great Training’

“This is new for them in many ways, so they’re getting an opportunity to work alongside us and with us to get some great training,” Boyer added.

The chaplains trained on how to provide care in a wartime environment, he said.

“They’ll see how we triage patients at the 51st Medical Group and how we provide ministry to those individuals,” Boyer said. “[Showing them] our priority of who gets seen first and how we go about caring for those individuals spiritually when they’re wounded.”

Working together, he said, helps strengthen ties between the U.S. and South Korean air forces.

U.S.-South Korean Security Partnership

“If we had to go to war, we would do it together,” Boyer said of the U.S-South Korean security partnership. “Part of the way we go together is learning how to fight together and how to spiritually care for people in a war environment.”

The chaplains also trained on how to provide ministry to individuals who may have suicidal thoughts or are conscientious objectors.

“[We have the] responsibility of taking care of the spiritual health of our military people,” said South Korean air force Chaplain (Maj.) Ka Kwang Myung, who is the Headquarters Office of Chaplains Corps planning chaplain. “It is very important to increase our spiritual combat power [together]. So sharing our experience through joint exercises will develop a better understanding of each other within the chaplain’s corps.”

Beverly Herd 17-3 trained the chaplains to work together during a crisis. However, the American and South Korean chaplains have already been training together whenever possible, Boyer said.

“We’ve been doing something at least once every month,” he said. “This is a priority for us in strengthening these capabilities [between us].”
Myung added, “Doing this joint exercise, I realize why chaplains should be here and why we are needed. With this threat from North Korea, we need to focus on taking care of our military. I think in this environment the most important thing is a very strong alliance” between South Korean and American air force members.