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Team effort helps A-10 units deploy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
When the 350-plus Airmen and dozen or so A-10s from Selfridge forward deployed in early April, it was a team effort that made the move happen.

"Airmen from across the 127th Wing, no matter their specialty or assignment, were all contributing to this effort," said Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, the 127th Wing commander. "From Airmen who were working in the middle of night to load cargo on to aircraft, to our family support people who are getting necessary information to the family of our deployed Airmen, the 127th Wing truly has been working together as a team with one goal in mind: to get the job done."

The A-10s and Michigan Air National Guard Airmen from Selfridge forward-deployed to Southwest Asia in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in mid-April. The deployment is to last about six months.

Slocum said every unit in the Wing contributed in some fashion to support the deployment. Those efforts included:

127th Logistics Readiness Squadron
More than a half dozen Air Force cargo aircraft were involved in the move to send the 107th Fighter Squadron and supporting elements to Central Command - that's in addition to the approximately dozen A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft the unit flew to their new area of responsibility.

The task of loading all of those aircraft fell to the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron, with assistance from various units and Airmen from Selfridge and around the Air Force.

"This was a Total Air Force movement," said Master Sgt. R., Aerial Port flight supervisor, during a late night cargo loading session (in the rain, of course). "We have people from every part of LRS involved, people from (Civil Engineer Squadron). Civilians, Airmen, our traditional Guard members -- everyone is here."

Because of the size of the move and the compressed schedule in which it needed to be accomplished - 140 "increments" of cargo, some on pallets, some larger pieces on their own wheels - the Selfridge LRS team requested assistance from the National Guard Bureau for some additional hands.

"We received three Airmen from other Air National Guard wings and several young Airmen from active duty," R. said. "They all worked a lot of hours to make this move happen on time."

127th Air Refueling Group
The 127th Air Refueling Group, which flies the KC-135 Stratotanker at Selfridge, provided strategic support to the deployment of its sister units, the 127th Operations Group and 127th Maintenance Group. KC-135s from the Air Refueling Group helped "drag" the A-10s from Selfridge on the first portion of their journey. Because A-10s and similar fighter-style aircraft don't carry enough fuel internally to make such a long journey, aerial refueling is a critical Air Force capability.

"We perform similar missions for other units all the time," said Lt. Col. Jim, a KC-135 pilot with the 171st Air Refueling Squadron at Selfridge. "This time it just so happens that the unit we are supporting is from across the base."

The Selfridge tankers helped the Selfridge A-10s make the first leg of their journey to their deployment location in Central Command. Another set of tankers met up with the A-10s for the remainder of the journey.

127th Medical Group
Tech. Sgt. Brian is one of three medical specialists - two medics and a doctor - from Selfridge who will be traveling with the deployment group. While forward deployed, Faulkner and the other medical specialists will serve as essentially a deployed doctor's office.

"We'll handle sick call, upset stomachs, make sure the pilots are good to go from a medical standpoint," Brian said. "We'll be like your family doctor's office, and more," he said of his role as part of the unit's SME - squadron medical element.

In advance of the deployment, the 127th Medical Group started working about two months in advance, ensuring that all the deployers were ready to travel.

"That means checking immunizations, any tests that they may be due - not only what is due now, but over the term of their deployment," said Brian, who has been a medic for about 12 years. He's also credentialed as a registered nurse in the civilian world, in the state of Michigan.

"The last week or two before the group departs, it gets pretty intense," he said. "Just the number of people you are dealing with and the number of records involved. But we have some experienced people in the Med Group who are up to the task."

127th Force Support Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Tanisha's assignment to prepare for the deployment was simple: be ready to help out.

"Really, we're here just looking for a place where we can step in and lend a hand, to make the process run smooth," said Tanisha, a personnel specialist with the 127th Force Support Squadron. "We're looking for any last-minute fires to put out."

For the personnel specialists, among the biggest issues is ensuring that military members have all of their dependents' information updated for pay, medical insurance and related purposes.

"That's the biggest thing is trying to make sure the dependents are taken care of so that when the Airmen are deployed, there's one less thing for them to worry about back home," she said.

Tanisha has been a member of the U.S. military for 19 years - nine in the Army and 10 years in the Michigan Air National Guard. She's helped process major deployments at Selfridge about a half-dozen times.

"This is a chance for me to make my contribution," she said. "I may not be going on this trip, but if I can help provide someone with the information they need to take care of their family - that's the part I can play."

127th Comptroller Flight
For traditional members of the Air National Guard - those who generally serve about one weekend per month and a few training weeks per year - one of the big questions when a deployment happens is quite basic: How much am I going to be paid.

Enter Staff Sgt. Matthew and the 127th Comptroller Flight. His job, among other things, is to provide that answer. Military pay is based on rank, time in service and other factors, such as being separated from one's family for certain lengths of time.

"If each person knows exactly what he or she is going to get paid, that smooths the transition to military duty from civilian life," said Matthew. "So as members are deploying, we are making one last review to ensure that they are receiving any entitlements that should be receiving and that they know what those amounts will be in advance."

"Getting paid correctly should be the least of a person's worries," he said.

Editor's note: All last names have been removed from this story for security reasons.

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.