Kentucky and Missouri Air Guardsmen train together for future deployments

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Philip Speck
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Multiple aircrews and maintainers from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing recently joined with Airmen from the Missouri Air Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing to perform annual training in Savannah, Georgia, in preparation for future deployments.

This isn’t the first time the two wings have flown together, according to Lt. Col. Matthew Quenichet, director of operations for Kentucky’s 165th Airlift Squadron. Both units have deployed overseas together several times, and they expect to do so again in the future. Kentucky contributed four C-130 Hercules aircraft for the Georgia training, which was held Jan. 6-12, while Missouri sent five.

“It’s good team building,” Quenichet said of the training. “We get a jump on our annual training by going down there. You get everyone away from home so they can focus on annual requirements, airdrops and large-formation flying. We did two formation sorties each day, where crews air-dropped training loads, and we flew three 123rd Special Tactics Squadron members so they could practice High-Altitude, Low-Opening parachute jumps.”

New aircraft commanders and loadmasters also received intensive training.

“During events like this in the past, we’ve trained aircraft commanders that came up from being co-pilots on C-130s, but this year we had five pilots who were previous aircraft commanders on different airframes,” Quenichet explained. “They got a lot of good training in Savannah.”

Quenichet had high praise for the units’ aircraft maintenance personnel, who attained extremely high mission-ready rates throughout the event.

“They had airplanes ready for us every time we needed them, which is exactly how it is in the desert, where a mission is almost never canceled for maintenance because they have guys climbing all over the planes 24 hours a day.”

According to Senior Master Sgt. Chad Chamberlain, production superintendent for Kentucky’s 123rd Maintenance Group, the flying effectiveness rate was 100 percent — which means they didn’t miss a single scheduled flight.

“This was a great training opportunity for our younger maintainers,” said Senior Master Sgt. Morgan Bramer, flight chief for the 123rd Maintenance Group. “We have a lot of young guys, and for some of them, this was the first field exercise they’ve ever been on.”

Even some of the veteran maintainers saw things they normally don’t get to witness.

On the event’s last day, both wings flew all their aircraft in a nine-ship formation, taking off together, flying in formation and landing as a group.

Chamberlain and Bramer agreed it was fascinating to see.

“I still get goosebumps seeing that,” Bramer said “That was the highlight of the training.”