Bosslift gives civilian employers up-close look at 123rd Airlift Wing
By Master Sgt. Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published November 17, 2016
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Nearly two-dozen civilian employers spent the day with the 123rd Airlift Wing here Oct. 26, meeting Airmen and learning about the unit's mission as part of a "Bosslift" sponsored by the Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
The employers, who included a mayor, a police chief and factory supervisors, also flew on a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to tour the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Bosslifts are designed to enhance understanding between National Guardsmen and the civilian employers for whom they work when they're not on duty, explained U.S. Army Maj. Gen. D. Alan Youngman, a retired adjutant general for the Kentucky National Guard who now serves as state chairman for ESGR.
"This gives employers who have people that work for them in the Guard and Reserve a chance to see firsthand what those employees do with their military duties," Youngman said. "It really gives them an appreciation for how important these folks are to our national defense, which in turn reinforces their criticality of being supported by their civilian employers."
The day's activities began with a mission briefing by the wing commander, Col. David Mounkes, followed by a briefing on ESGR's history and purpose.
Monkes expressed his gratitude to the employers for their interest in the Bosslift and the Kentucky Air National Guard, telling them that they role they play is "essential to the defense of our nation."
"The Air Force relies greatly on traditional Guardsmen to perform its mission, and without your support as civilian employers of those Guardsmen, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs," Mounkes said.
Youngman explained to the employers that ESGR is a Department of Defense program that promotes supportive work environments for service members through outreach, recognition and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also helps resolve employment conflicts between service members and their employers.
Following the briefings, employers were given a tour of the base and met Airmen from several functional areas, including the 123rd Contingency Response Group, 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, 123rd Force Support Squadron, the 123rd Explosive Ordinance Disposal Flight, Emergency Management and the Fatality Search and Recovery Team.
The employers then had lunch in the base dining facility and boarded a C-130 Hercules aircraft for an orientation flight en route to the Air Force museum, where they viewed an exhibit on Battlefield Airmen. The exhibit has special significance to the Kentucky Air Guard because it includes a diorama on the Battle at Takur Ghar, during which Tech. Sgt. Keary Miller, a former pararescueman from the wing's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, played a prominent role. Miller was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the 15-hour firefight on an Afghan mountain, helping save numerous comrades while repeatedly putting his own life in extreme danger.
The day's activities made a lasting impression on many of the employers, several of whom had little prior knowledge of the wing's missions or engagement in operations all over the world.
"I've driven by the base forever, and I love planes," said Tom Raver, owner of Fireplace Distributors Inc. He described the tours and briefings as "eye opening," adding that the C-130 orientation flight "was very exciting to me."
Craig Burcham, director of operations at Louisville-based sporting goods firm Hillerich & Bradsby Co., agreed.
"Half of everything I learned today was something new," he said. "I was unaware of how involved the Air Guard is with the community, state, country and overseas. I'm familiar with some of the IT equipment that was being used, but it was interesting to see how it was being used by the military."
Youngman said events like the Bosslift also help employers recognize the benefits of military service, which their Citizen Airmen bring to the civilian workplace.
"The Bosslift gives employers insight into why those people are so good at work," he said. "The levels of responsibilities and skills that they demonstrate in uniform reinforce the value of that employee when he or she is at their civilian job.
"Some of these employers had no prior up-close experience with the United States Air Force and had not seen what the wing was capable of. I think everyone came in with a high level of expectation, but the 123rd Airlift Wing just blew them away with how professional, capable and competent everyone was."