Oregon ANG partners with neighboring state, hones wartime skills

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

For several days in late April, two KC-135 tanker aircraft from the 141st Air Refueling Wing called Kingsley Field, in Klamath Falls, Ore., home, while they practiced warfighting skills—supplying fighter aircraft with gas being a prime example.

In order to effectively train for the modern mission-set, officially named agile combat employment, the refueling wing moved their operations away from Fairchild Air Force Base, in Spokane, Wash., and trained their Airmen on what it takes to pack up and stage out of an unfamiliar airfield.

In order to facilitate their trip, the 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron planned extensively, providing everything from lodging arrangements to the large quantities of fuel needed to feed the wing jets during training missions.

Master Sgt. Mike Elder coordinated much of the trip for the visitors. “There was a lot of preparation prior to—telephone and email communications with the shops that were involved—to get them an area on the airfield to bed two aircraft down.”

Once the Washington unit arrived, Elder acted as their liaison, ensuring they had what they needed to run their operations.

“The hardest part as it turned out was getting a porta-potty on the airfield for them to use,” he said with a chuckle.

Having an air refueling unit stage out of Kingsley Field allowed a number of Airmen and their family members to fly along for a first-hand look at some of the training.

“That was my first time going up and seeing that,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christine Longfield, the 173rd Fighter Wing command support staff functional manager. “You could see them really clearly, they are very close, and it was impressive.”

“This is an opportunity to practice modern force generation where resources move easily into the areas where they are needed rather than massing heavily at one location,” said Maj. Eric McDaniel, the director of operations for 173rd LRS. “For us, this helps develop our cooperation across the wing, in addition to strengthening a long-standing relationship with the 141st.”

Senior Master Sgt. Rob Mitchell, a KC-135 boom operator from 141st ARW echoed that sentiment, saying, “Not only did we get to exercise our agile combat employment, we got introduce a new generation of Airmen to the uniquely important relationship our two wings have.”