News: East Tennessee Air Guard members support “Operation Hope of Martin”
Story by Niki Gentry
MARTIN, Tenn. - Airmen from Tennessee’s 134th Air Refueling Wing located in Knoxville supported 144 fellow military personnel in west Tennessee during “Operation Hope of Martin” conducted July 7 through 19. Sponsored by the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program, six members of the 134th Force Support Squadron, along with members from the 123rd Airlift Wing in Kentucky, provided 5,000 meals to Air Force, Army and Navy medical personnel aiding citizens from Dresden, Martin, Sharon, Greenfield and Gleason.
The IRT program, established in 1993, provides civil-military support to areas in need of health care, infrastructure support and youth programs. The training allows military members real world experience in their wartime missions while providing beneficial services to areas lacking resources to meet certain needs of their citizens. “Operation Hope of Martin” provided no cost care to approximately 3,500 citizens by military medical providers with 7,900 procedures conducted during the two- week program.
Lt. Col. Chip Thiele, commander of the 134th FSS, said, “Tennessee Air Guard members are always ready to support humanitarian missions whenever and wherever possible. Our airmen selflessly give their time to aid communities in need. We’re proud to represent the 134th ARW and continue the volunteer tradition of our great state.”
Thiele emphasized the mission improved capabilities to integrate military health care, base services, contracting elements, personnel functions, public affairs and logistics operations across a joint military service environment.
The 134th FSS provided meals using the new Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer. The kitchen can feed up to 2,000 people per meal or 6,000 people per day. The DRMKT is also designed for quick set-up and ease of mobility to assist in war or disaster areas.
Tech. Sgt. Jacob Daniels of the 134th FSS said, “This is why we go to work and train so hard. The services provided during this mission were very much needed and I’m happy I was able to play a role in such an important training opportunity.”
Staff Sgt. Jason McGuffey, also a 134th FSS member added, “I feel very fortunate to have supported the “Operation Hope of Martin.” It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my career with the Tennessee Air National Guard.”
“Operation Hope of Martin” tested the mission readiness of organizations under real time conditions providing a unique learning opportunity. The IRT program is an invaluable tool to assist not only communities, but also provide vital training for today’s joint service members. Building stronger communities while also enhancing critical skills used in times of war and peace provided a winning combination for all involved in the west Tennessee operation.