McLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, W.Va. --
More than 100 Airmen from the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing deployed this week to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The Airmen from the 130th AW’s Medical, Operations, and Maintenance groups all help to form the Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment package. The 130th AW also provides personnel for individual deployments around the globe each year, fulfilling critical roles in our nation’s national defense strategy.
Maintaining and sustaining combat readiness is vital to supporting ongoing AEF contingency missions. Guardsmen are held to the same standards as their active duty counterparts, while balancing a civilian life as well. Training requirements for 130th AW members include command and control, small arms training, shelter build up and tear down, resiliency training, suicide prevention, ability to survive and operate, search and recovery, as well as additional training specific to each member’s occupation in the Air Force.
The 130th AW is helping to support this deployment rotation by providing tactical airlift, cargo and personnel transportation, and medical support among other critical missions. This means certification and training for all flight members on new techniques, additional vaccinations for, and a complete records review to ensure that deploying medical members are current with all of their qualifications.
Some of these deploying military members are full-time pilots, nurses, mechanics, and students on the civilian side. This diverse array of professions highlight the uniqueness of traditional Air National Guard members, while displaying their commitment to the Citizen-Airman model.
Lt. Col. Gregory S. ("Scott") Lowe, commander of the 130th Airlift Squadron, spoke of the duality that many traditional Guardsmen face.
“The Air National Guard demands more of us, utilizing the total force concept. Because of the critical aspects of the mission, many of my traditional members need to perform six to eight days of annual training every month in order to stay proficient. We exist to respond to state and federal activations, but as we continue to depend more upon traditional members, it is important to be mindful of that balance.”
As AEF deployers work to strike a balance between military and civilian life, 130th AW leadership understands the sacrifices that its members are willing to make.
“All Airmen are deploying with all of their training complete, something that is not a simple feat,” Col. Carla Riner, 130th Maintenance Group commander, said. “They’re leaving ready to answer their country’s call and I appreciate that sacrifice that each member and their family makes.”
As airlift support and maintenance play an important role in the AEF mission, the 130th AW also provides medical evacuation support as well, through the 167th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Whether it’s removing a military member injured in the line of duty, civilian casualties, or needed transportation to a military hospital, the 167th AES is providing the necessary personnel and assets to help fight the global war on terrorism.
“Our role in the 130th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is to transport the sick and wounded to a higher level of care; care that would not be available in the field for our personnel,” said Lt. Col. Dustin Ganley, 167th AES director of operations. “Our mission to provide medical care to all people – military and civilians – in theater and stateside, if needed.”
While their family members anxiously await the return of their loved ones, 130th AW members answered America’s call and have satisfaction of participating in a mission that keeps U.S. and coalition war fighters on the ground and in the sky safe.
“As the commander of the 130th Airlift Wing, I’m proud of the work that these Airmen have put into preparing for this deployment and the significant contributions they will make to the joint fight overseas while deployed,” said Col. Johnny Ryan. “I look forward to celebrating their return and sharing their stories of success with our community and National Guard leadership.”