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    Team McConnell loads up for Red Flag

    Red Flag cargo load

    Photo By Maj. Zachary Anderson | A total force team of logistics personnel and air refueling boom operators from the...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Zachary Anderson 

    931st Air Refueling Wing/Public Affairs

    MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A Total Force team of logistics personnel and air refueling boom operators from the active duty 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Group braved gusting winds and sub-freezing temperatures to load approximately 18,000 pounds of cargo onto a KC-135 Stratotanker here, Feb. 23.

    The cargo load was in preparation for Team McConnell's participation in Red Flag, a large-scale military exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. This load in particular was for the base's Advance Echelon (ADVON) team.

    "The ADVON team is the personnel who arrive early and set up everything so that when we show up later in the week to begin the exercise, everything is ready to go," said Master Sgt. Chris Norris, a refueling boom operator assigned to the reserve 18th Air Refueling Squadron. "McConnell is taking an entire maintenance and staff package to this exercise. So this cargo load is going to get the equipment and bare minimum of personnel to Nellis Air Force Base early in order to get prepared for Red Flag."

    While the aircrew and personnel going out as the ADVON team will be from the 22 ARW, active duty and reserve Airmen worked side by side to ensure the team's cargo was loaded and ready to go.

    "There are aircrews from the 22 ARW and the 931 ARG going to participate in Red Flag," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Gidaly, a refueling boom operator assigned to the active duty 344th Air Refueling Squadron. "When it came time to load the first jet going out, I asked all the booms who are going if they would be willing to help. That way, instead of having an arbitrary load team we had a team where everyone has a vested interested because they will all be participating in Red Flag together."

    Norris said working together as a Total Force team of active duty and reserve airmen is mutually beneficial for the 22 ARW and 931 ARG.

    "Even though we are individual reserve or active duty aircrews, the mission itself is a Total Force thing," said Norris. "When we work together like this, not only are we able to learn from each other, but we are also able to help train some of the younger active duty Airmen and teach them from our own experience. Our active duty counterparts don't do as many cargo missions as we do on the reserve side, so by doing this we can help them learn and gain experience on the cargo aspect of the mission."

    Three senior non-commissioned officers served as part of the cargo load team. Gidaly said the combined experience of these enlisted members was invaluable.

    "Between Master Sgt. Joe Cofield, Master Sgt. Aaron Meadows and Master Sgt. Chris Norris, you are looking at more than 10,000 hours of combined flight time," said Gidaly. "When you have multiple guys with that type of experience out there working together on a cargo load, it's a big deal for getting the job done teaching the younger Airmen."

    Norris said one of the biggest lessons he and his fellow senior NCOs wanted to display was doing the job correctly despite the harsh conditions.

    "It's freezing cold out here and blowing snow, but we want to make sure the younger guys see that despite that we still run the checklists and make sure everything is done by the book, and it's done efficiently, safely and methodically," said Norris.

    The approximately nine tons of cargo were quickly and safely loaded, with plenty of on the job training to go with it. Within two hours of arriving on the flightline, the Total Force team had accomplished its mission: The aircraft was safely loaded and prepared to send the first group of Team McConnell Airmen to Nellis AFB to begin participation in Red Flag.



    Date Taken: 02.24.2015
    Date Posted: 02.25.2015 15:34
    Story ID: 155378
    Location: WICHITA, KS, US 

    Web Views: 32
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    Team McConnell loads up for Red Flag