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Kentucky Air Guard provides mission support as lead unit at Red Flag - Alaska

Master Sgt. Natasha Perry of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Medical Group gives a checkup to a deployed member while serving as a medic during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 16, 2014. Dozens of Airmen from the 123rd provided essential support during the exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Master Sgt. Natasha Perry of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Medical Group gives a checkup to a deployed member while serving as a medic during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 16, 2014. Dozens of Airmen from the 123rd provided essential support during the exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Senior Airman Dwight Trowell, services apprentice for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Force Support Squadron, serves a meal to deployed member during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 16, 2014. Dozens of Airmen from the 123rd provided essential support during the exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Senior Airman Dwight Trowell, services apprentice for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Force Support Squadron, serves a meal to deployed member during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 16, 2014. Dozens of Airmen from the 123rd provided essential support during the exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing provided essential mission support to Red Flag - Alaska from May 7 to 23, serving as the lead unit during the Pacific Command exercise here.

Though Red Flag is primary an operations-driven exercise designed to test the skills of aircrews in a simulated combat environment, dozens of Kentucky Airmen from a broad range of career fields provided key support, according to Lt. Col. Matthew Stone, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Mission Support Group.

Those Airmen included specialists from maintenance, fuels, air terminal operations, supply, security forces, vehicle operations, munitions, aerospace ground equipment, the medical group and the force support squadron. They served alongside active-duty Airmen, Soldiers and forces from the Royal Singapore Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force.

"That's what the Kentucky Air National Guard does," Stone said. "It's our history and our heritage. We go in, we want to do it right, and we want to lead.

"Red Flag - Alaska needs all of these people from our base to support and lead the mission because we're putting a big burden on (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson)," Stone added.

In addition to supporting Kentucky aircrews and C-130s that participated in Red Flag, the Kentucky Airmen provided support to the 1st Special Operations Squadron, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, and the 18th Maintenance Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan, which provided MC-130 Combat Talon IIs and E-3 Sentry aircraft.

For example, the 123rd Airlift Wing provided services personnel to help feed all deployed forces, Stone said. Personnel Support for Contingency Operations staff assisted with in-processing, while aerial port Airmen loaded cargo on many different types of aircraft.

With 50 cars and trucks required to execute the mission, Master Sgt. Mark Williams from the 123rd's Vehicle Operations Section managed rolling stock.  And logistics personnel like Staff Sgt. Scott Morton and Tech. Sgt. Derrick Cummings provided refueling services for a full spectrum of participating aircraft, including C-9s, C-40s, C-12s, C-130s and MC-130s.

The 123rd Medical Group's main goal was to ensure that deployed members complied with military medical standards. However, the group's physicians and technicians were also "able to utilize their knowledge and skills to treat acute medical conditions" in the flight medicine clinic at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, said Master Sgt. Natasha Perry, Red Flag-Alaska medic.

"It's been a good learning experience that allows our members to stay up on skills we do not utilize back home," she said.

Perry added that it was helpful for the deployed Kentucky personnel to get exposure to the active-duty electronic medical records system. The National Guard has not yet adopted electronic medical records.

Stone said the exercise was an outstanding learning experience for all involved, from the Kentucky Airmen to their active-duty counterparts.

"The active-duty folks learned from us, and we got to learn from them," he said.

The 123rd was the only Air National Guard unit to participate in the exercise.