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    131st Bomb Wing Guardsmen ‘deploy’ to Missouri State Fairgrounds

    131st Bomb Wing Guardsmen ‘deploy’ to Missouri State Fairgrounds

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Colton Elliott | 131st Bomb Wing Citizen Airmen drilled together for the first time in almost 12 years,...... read more read more

    SEDALIA, MO, UNITED STATES

    09.08.2019

    Story by 2nd Lt. Traci Howells 

    131st Bomb Wing

    SEDALIA, Mo. —131st Bomb Wing Guardsmen spent drill weekend together for the first time in almost 12 years this weekend at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.

    The event was the vision of the wing commander, Col. Ken Eaves, designed as a way to bring Airmen from both sides of the state together for ancillary training, State Emergency Duty preparedness, and camaraderie. While there has been 131st presence at Jefferson Barracks Air National Guard Station for many years, most of the wing has been geographically separated since the transition to the B-2 mission at Whiteman Air Force Base in 2008.

    “We are a unique organization with members assigned to two different locations, two hundred miles away from each other,” Eaves said. “It was important to me that we set aside some time to train together, connect, and continue to create an environment of Guard family by having some very important discussions.”

    Last month, the units participated in simulated outprocessing deployment lines, much like they would when activated by the Missouri governor for SED.

    When they arrived to their bases Saturday morning, the Guardsmen boarded buses for the state fairgrounds where they grabbed an MRE lunch and dropped their bags off in assigned tents. Later that afternoon, they conducted training to include sandbagging operations, which the 131st BW conducts frequently in support of flood relief efforts across the state.

    Though the initial concept of the event was to provide the Guardsmen the opportunity to complete 100 percent of all ancillary training for the year, and to provide education and preparation for future state emergencies, the weekend event was a timely opportunity to engage in the Air Force-wide Resilience Tactical Pause, in response to a rise in suicides across the force.

    “What we are doing here this weekend already aligned with Gen. Goldfein’s direction for the RTP, so it made sense to make time in the schedule,” Eaves said. “This is not a one and done effort. This is an ongoing, sustained effort to combat the challenge of suicide and take care of our Airmen, and it’s something we have already been working hard on in our wing.”

    On Sunday morning, the wing divided the nearly one thousand Airmen into more than 60 small groups. The Airmen opened up about belongingness, barriers to getting help, ways to break down those barriers, and ways to create a positive culture in the wing.

    Master Sgt. Staci Cooper, 131st BW Host Aviation Resource Management superintendent, said the events of the weekend opened her eyes to a new way of leading. Cooper facilitated team building and morale events during drill and interacted with Guardsmen from throughout the wing.

    Cooper explained that she always tries her best to be a servant leader but was reminded this weekend that sometimes it’s just the little things that matter most. She referred specifically to interaction with the student flight, members of the unit that have yet to go to Basic Military Training but attend drill each month.

    “I was able to empathize with each and every student flight member this weekend, Cooper said. “I’d like to believe my kind words, attention and inclusion made at least one member in the student flight proud to be a member of the 131st.”

    In addition to training, the event provided direct access to many of the resources the wing has to offer, including the directors of psychological health and the wing chaplains, who were all on hand to answer questions and to provide guidance and support. Many outside agency resources also showed up for Airmen, including the Red Cross, Vet Center, Military One Source, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion.

    Before departure, Eaves thanked numerous organizations that contributed their time and resources to the event, including the city of Sedalia and Sedalia Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, McCarthy Auto Group, USAA, USO of Missouri, Inc., The Lantern House, DH Concessions, and the ANG Band of the Midwest.

    He also thanked the unit’s own force support, logistics readiness, civil engineer, finance, contracting and combat communications squadrons, medical group, first sergeants and the chief’s group for all of their roles in planning and executing the weekend. Lastly, he thanked the men and women of the 131st for their participation and their engagement.

    “As I interacted with Airmen throughout the weekend, I heard stories of new connections and old friendships. That's the definition of Guard family in action,” he said. “This event far exceeded my vision and all of my expectations.”



    More information on the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing can be found at http://www.131bw.ang.af.mil/. For more information on the Missouri National Guard, visit http://moguard.com/.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.08.2019
    Date Posted: 09.10.2019 18:39
    Story ID: 339416
    Location: SEDALIA, MO, US 

    Web Views: 41
    Downloads: 0
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