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    165th Airlift Wing completes final overseas exercise flying the C-130 Hercules in Germany during Air Defender 2023

    165th Airlift Wing flies training mission over Germany with Arkansas Air National Guard during Air Defender 2023

    Photo By Master Sgt. Caila Arahood | A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft with the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia National...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Caila Arahood 

    165th Airlift Wing

    SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. – This summer, one Savannah C-130 Hercules aircraft along with nearly 60 Airmen from the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, traveled to Germany in support of Air Defender 2023, the largest collective defense air exercise since the inception of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.

    This exercise marks a historic milestone for the 165th AW, as it was the final large-scale exercise the wing participated in flying its C-130H Hercules aircraft after 41 years. The wing began their conversion on July 10 and are on their way to becoming one of the Air National Guard’s newest C-130J Super Hercules fleets.

    Over the month of June, Germany’s air force, called the Luftwaffe, hosted more than 200 aircraft from over 25 countries participating alongside 40-plus Air National Guard units from 35 states. With the Air Force and Air National Guard contributing some 2,000 Airmen along with 100 aircraft to the exercise, the U.S showcased interoperability and its reinforcing commitment to partners both regionally and across the globe.

    “I don’t know how you all feel about this exercise, but I can tell you this, this exercise does not happen without mobility,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, the director of the Air National Guard, to Airmen during a visit to Wunstorf Air Base June 22, 2023.

    The Savannah unit, who prides themselves on being “America’s Best Team, World’s Best Airlift,” has flown the C-130H Hercules model for more than four decades.

    They showcased their expertise and skills in the air mobility mission by completing critical tactical airlift missions throughout AD23, according to Col. Rusty Ballard, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing and officer in-charge of the C-130 detachment during the exercise.

    “The C-130s operating here at Wunstorf really are the backbone of the exercise because our counterparts flying fighter jets could not even operate if they didn’t have C-130s getting their cargo to their areas of operation,” said Ballard. In addition to the deployment and redeployment of cargo and passengers, Savannah flew several missions during the exercise that consisted of multi-ship tactical formations, personnel airdrops as well as cargo airdrop missions alongside nine other ANG units.

    The Savannah tail was the highest contributor to flight hours ending with 36 sorties totaling 44.9 hours flown, 79 passengers transported, 113,050 lbs of cargo moved and 40 passengers airdropped. Additionally, Savannah flew two high-visibility missions during the exercise, including one formation flight to Lithuania and a foreign media flight.

    Over the course of four weeks, air mobility Airmen at Wunstorf Air Base completed over 351 flight hours, moved more than 1.3 million pounds of cargo, transported over 1300 passengers and used nearly 460,000 lbs of fuel to do so, said Ballard.

    While the 182nd AW’s commander and key staff out of Peoria, Illinois, was the lead wing for the air mobility side of the exercise, Savannah’s team held many lead roles on the planning and operations teams for the duration of the exercise that led to overall mission accomplishment.

    “Over the course of the month here in Germany we had several key players leading the way for the C-130 mission out of Wunstorf Air Base,” said Maj. Katie Parker, the chief of weapons and tactics with the 165th AW and the C-130 liaison officer for AD23. “Some of Savannah’s best were here making the mission happen including Senior Master Sgt. Adam Lindamood as the lead of log plans, Chief Master Sgt. Terry Johnson as the chief of maintenance, Capt. John Cox as the officer in-charge of the maintenance operations center, Master Sgt. Caila Arahood as the NCOIC of public affairs operations, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Hayes as the NCOIC of fuels and Chief Master Sgt. Medie Still as the senior enlisted leader for all the Airmen at this location.”

    The hard work and mission impact of the Savannah team was recognized at the highest levels, with Capt. John Cox who was coined by Loh during his visit to Wunstorf Air Base June 22.

    “As the liaison officer for the C-130 detachment working alongside my counterparts at National Guard Bureau for a majority of the exercise, I was proud to hear and see all of the Airmen from Savannah taking on the challenges in front of them to ensure the C-130 team as a whole accomplished the mission, " said Parker. “All 10 C-130 units came together as one team and performed beyond expectations alongside two allied nations, Germany and Romania.”

    Airmen from across multiple career fields had the opportunity to work with allies in a way that they hadn’t before which gave a whole new perspective on what it means to build relationships and learn to operate together if conflict does arise in the future.

    Captain John Maloney, a C-130 Hercules pilot assigned to the 158th Airlift Squadron, 165 AW, agreed, “Being on the road and a part of this exercise has allowed me to see first hand how each member and task is involved in making everything work.”

    Maloney said he thinks it is important to train with our allies and partners to ensure we can integrate the variety of tasks, training and aircraft capabilities alongside our allies successfully.

    “Everyone wants the same common goals,” said Maloney. “My biggest takeaway from Air Defender 2023 is just seeing everyone come together and work in full cooperation to meet the objectives of the exercise and complete the mission in a way that achieves those goals.”

    Col. Sheldon A. Wilson, commander of the 165th AW, agreed. “A key objective of this exercise was to demonstrate air power alongside our allied and partner nations as well as promote our ability to merge our tactics with our allies and ensure if and when a threat is present, we can protect our own populations and armed forces,” said Wilson.

    Airmen with the 165th AW completed nearly five decades of flying the C-130 Hercules with unmatched skill and teamwork on a very high note working alongside nearly 40 other ANG units and collaborating with 25 NATO countries across several locations throughout the duration of AD23.



    Date Taken: 07.17.2023
    Date Posted: 07.19.2023 16:05
    Story ID: 449558

    Web Views: 635
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