Selfridge Airmen Complete Latest Guam Mission
By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 09, 2018
SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- More than five dozen Michigan Citizen-Airmen have returned home after completing a successful deployment to the Pacific Ocean island territory of Guam.
The Michigan Guardsmen, part of the 127th Wing based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, flew KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, supporting continuous bomber presence and theater security plan in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility. The KC-135 is primarily provides air-to-air refueling services to U.S. and allied aircraft, a mission of particular importance given the vast distances involved in the Pacific Ocean region.
The Michigan Guardsmen from Selfridge have been supporting operations in Guam over the course of multiple short-term deployments over the past several years. While deployed, the Selfridge personnel worked with active-duty, Air Force Reserve personnel and Airmen from the Utah and Alaska Air National Guard to form the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in Guam. The squadron staged operations from multiple locations throughout the region, to include Hawaii, Alaska, Australia, Wake Island, Diego Garcia, and multiple airfields in Japan.
“This used to be fairly low-key, as far as deployments go,” said Col Stan Krasovic, the commander of the 127th Air Refueling Group at Selfridge who served as the commander of the 506th during the deployment. “But with the demand for air refueling assets exceeding capacity, this is now a true 24/7 operation.”
Prior to the departure of the Selfridge personnel from Guam, they were relieved by Air Guard personnel from other states, allowing the 506th mission to continue without interruption.
The Selfridge Airmen had to deal with several challenges during the deployment. Guam was recently impacted by several typhoons and the Michigan air crews provided air refueling support to aircraft that were evacuated from the island as a typhoon neared – and then were evacuated themselves, explained Major Don Davenport, a Selfridge KC-135 pilot from the 171st Air Refueling Squadron who served as the director of operations for the 506th during the deployment. The maintenance, support and staff personnel who remained behind during the typhoon were forced to relocate to new lodging quarters after their hotel experienced extensive flooding.
“Maintaining accountability for over 120 Airmen, from multiple Guard, Reserve and active duty units has been a challenging, but extremely rewarding experience,” said Master Sgt. Mike Owen, a Selfridge Airman who served as the first sergeant of the 506th EARS.
In addition to flight crews and aircraft maintenance personnel from the 127th Air Refueling Group, several Selfridge Airmen from the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron also deployed to Guam with the 506th EARS, supporting supply, ground fuels, and vehicle operations support.
In addition to air refueling capabilities, the KC-135 can also carry cargo and passengers, meaning that the Selfridge aircraft were able to provide the airlift necessary to get all of the 127th Wing’s personnel, equipment and aircraft necessary for the mission to Guam – a trip that takes more than 16 hours of travel by air, typically broken up by a stopover at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Hawaii.