The deployment by the Air Refueling Group personnel, along with several of their assigned aircraft, brings the total number of Michigan Air National Guard Airmen deployed to Southwest Asia to nearly 500 men and women and more than a dozen Selfridge-based aircraft. Earlier this year, more than 300 Selfridge-based Airmen from the Wing's 127th Operations and Maintenance Groups, which together fly and operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also deployed to Southwest Asia. The combined deployments represent the largest number of deployed members of the Michigan Air National Guard since the Korean War.
The Air Refueling Group Airmen deployed in early June.
"This most current deployment highlights not only the flexible resource that the 127th Wing provides to our nation, but again drives home the reality that some of the most capable, the most willing and the most patriotic Americans - and their families - are right here at Selfridge," said Brig. Gen. Doug Slocum, 127th Wing commander. "It is very humbling to serve as the commander of such a dedicated group of Airmen."
Selfridge units involved in the KC-135 deployment include the 127th Air Refueling Group, 171st Air Refueling Squadron, 191st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 191st Maintenance Squadron.
Two days after the KC-135s and Airmen departed for Southwest Asia and Central Command, two more KC-135s and about two dozen Michigan Airmen left Selfridge to participate in Saber Strike, a NATO exercise that demonstrates U.S. support and partnership for the Baltic State nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The Michigan National Guard has had a military partnership with the Latvian military for more than 20 years in the national State Partnership for Peace program.
The two-week exercise deployment to Saber Strike demonstrates that even with nearly 500 Selfridge Airmen forward deployed, the 127th Wing continues to do business, Slocum said.
"We're busy here at Selfridge, supporting our deployed members, supporting their families and keeping our remaining Airmen fully trained for whatever the next mission may be," Slocum said.
When the Korean War began in 1950, both the 107th and 171st squadrons - which today fly in the A-10 and the KC-135, respectively, of the Michigan Air National Guard were sent to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to serve as training squadrons for pilots headed to the war in Korea. The Guard Airmen spent about a year in Arizona. While there have been numerous operational and training deployments since the end of the Korean War, the current combined deployments are the largest in terms of total personnel since that time.
The 127th Air Refueling Group and its related squadrons have been part of a number of ongoing deployments in recent years. From 2010 until summer 2014, the group participated in a series of continuous rolling mobilizations to Central Command, in which a dozen or so of the Group's Airmen and often one aircraft was forward deployed. Since 2009, the Group has also supported the domestic and global operations of Air Mobility Command's Tanker Airlift Control Center, which includes providing aeromedical evacuation duty and aerial refueling across the U.S. when called upon. The unit has also supported operations in the Pacific Ocean region and in the Mediterranean Sea area over the last several years.
Known as the Michigan Six-Pack since the days when the unit operated F-106 Delta Darts in the early 1970s, today the 127th Air Refueling Group flies and operates eight "T" model versions of the KC-135 which is capable of carrying two different types of fuel if required by mission parameters.
About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command operations by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 98th year of continuous military air operations in 2015.