Westover News

CRF sets foot in Florida

Exercise Patriot Sands 2018

The 439th Contingency Response Flight departs exercise Patriot Sands at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. on a Dover AFB C-5M Super Galaxy March 3, 2018. Throughout this exercise Airmen gained critical real world experience on how to upload and offload affiliate equipment and how to remain operationally ready to handle areas where air mobility operational support is insufficient or nonexistent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hanna Smith)

Exercise Patriot Sands 2018

Loadmasters with the 512th Airlift Wing marshal out affiliate equipment March 2, 2018, during the Patriot Sands Exercise at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Loadmasters ensure that equipment and personnel get from one point to the next safely. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hanna Smith)

Exercise Patriot Sands 2018

The 439th Contingency Response Flight poses for a photo March 2, 2018, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. This unit participated in the Patriot Sands exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hanna Smith)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- A brilliant blue sky and a relatively mild winter morning greeted 439th Contingency Response Flight as they made their way across the flightline to an awaiting C-17 Globemaster III for a trip south to an even warner Florida for a mobility exercise.

The CRF participated in the Air Force Reserve Command’s 2018 Patriot Sands exercise February 27 through March 3, 2018, at Patrick Air Force Base.

This exercise took place between Patrick, MacDill AFB and Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida and trained Airmen to be able to deploy within 72 hours of a tasking as a contingency response element.

“A CRE is the front-line of command and control, comprised of experienced airlift and operations personnel to manage, coordinate and control air mobility assets,” said Maj. Mickael Lewis, CRF operations officer.

Once the C-17 chalked its wheels, two CRF command post operators jumped out and established contact with the AFR Command Center and Tanker and Airlift Control Center to affirm the unit had gotten to the location safely.

Patriot Wing Airmen made quick work of unloading 25 tons of equipment from the C-17 and proceeded to set up the Hard-sided Expandable Lightweight Air Mobile Shelter which served as a command post for this exercise.

Throughout the exercise the HELAMS was used to keep communications flowing between CRF personnel, the aircraft and AFRCC and TACC so that training could be conducted safely and effectively for both affiliates and Airmen alike.

“Contingency Response personnel, aerial port personnel and aircraft maintenance personnel train affiliates for rapid airlift, air mobility and air worthiness skills,” said Lewis.

Affiliates for this exercise included units with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Coast Guard, a Florida Advanced Surgical Transport Team, a Federal Emergency Management Agency Task Force unit and a reserve Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

“Patriot Sands is excellent training for the affiliates and aircrew,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Muise, a loadmaster assigned to the 439th CRF. “This serves as a great opportunity to slow down operations so the participants understand the why and how behind what they are doing and understand how to perform it safely.”

As the exercise came to a close, the Airmen from the 439th CRF worked seamlessly as they packed and prepared their equipment for the flight back north to Westover. With the training the Airmen received they will be better able to fulfill the mission of global reach capabilities with mission-ready Citizen Airmen.