News>Westover Airmen take lead in joint training in Colorado
TSgt. Steve Duplessis and MSgt. Alex Cotton, both 439th Airlift Control Flight members, prepare the Hard Sided Expandable Light Weight Air Mobility Shelter Aug. 8. Five ALCF units reserve-wide are participating in Patriot Express, an annual Air Force Reserve Command exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/ SrA. Kelly Galloway)
TSgt. Steve Duplessis, 439th Airlift Control Flight (ALCF) Loadmaster, marshals a C-130 to the runway in Colorado Springs, Aug. 11, 2012. Five ALCF units reserve-wide participated in an annual Air Force Reserve exercise where Airmen operated two contingency response exercises, one in Colorado Springs and another in Pueblo, Colo., with C-17 and C-130's flying between the two locations. (U.S. Air Force photo by SrA. Kelly Galloway)
Inside the Hard-sided Expandable Lightweight Air Mobility Shelter (HELAMS), SMSgt. Paul Veresko and SSgt. Kennether Kerr show SSgt. Winnie Dion, all three members of the 439th Airlift Control Flight, the importance of written records and how to track progress of checklists imperitive to the ALCF mission in Colorado Springs during Patriot Express Exerise on August 11, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by SrA. Kelly Galloway)
Westover Airmen unload a C-5 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 8. Members from five Airlift Control Flights are particpating in Exercise Patriot Express, an annual Air Force Reserve Command exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA. Kelly Galloway)
8/14/2012 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- -- Over 35 Westover reservists deployed in a C-5 to the Fort Carson Air Terminal here, Aug. 8, as the lead unit in a joint-services contingency response exercise.
Patriot Express 2012 is designed to hone the abilities of the 439th Airlift Control Flight to deploy and set up air operations at a forward deployed location.
In order to get the job done, the unit worked in tandem with Westover aerial porters and personnel specialists, from the following units:
315th ALCF, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
433rd ALCF, Lackland AFB, Texas
452nd ALCF, March Air Reserve Base Calif.
512th ALCF, Dover AFB, Del.
Navy Mobility Construction Battalion 17 at Fort Carson.
The exercise simulated a deployment in the face of events like natural disasters and new combat operations, said 2nd Lt. Matthew Borowski, the 439th ALCF operations officer and the chief planner for the exercise.
"Working with the other units is the best part about my job," said Lt. Borowski. "The ability to have ALCFs from five different locations around the country come together to do this and all work together so well is a great opportunity. We get to train with them and learn new things from their experiences."
Once an ALCF deploys, they become a contingency response element -- the front line of setting up air operations at a new location, said Lt. Borowski. ALCF Airmen are responsible for managing, coordinating and controlling air mobility assets.
For TSgt. Yulonda McGee, who recently cross-trained into the 512th ALCF, her exercise is an effective opportunity for her to learn. She's been trained at home station; now the exercise has her actually performing her new job.
"The only way to really learn this job is to actually do it, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it's done," she said.
Patriot Express offers many chances for seeing how the job is done. Immediately after arriving, Airmen began setting up operations, with fully-skilled Airmen observing and teaching those who are in upgrade training.
They unloaded equipment from the Westover C-5, set up tents and assembled a Hard-sided Expandable Lightweight Air Mobility Shelter (HELAMS) - a special ALCF unit. Lt. Borowski said the HELAMS is a "base in a box" that contains all the communications equipment to get an airfield quickly operating.
"The Patriot Express Airmen are operating two contingency response exercises, the one in Colorado Springs and another one in Pueblo, Colo., and are managing the scheduling of a C-17 and C-130 flying between the two locations," he said.
While the aircraft are on the ground, members of Westover's 42nd and 58th Aerial Port Squadrons are working alongside the NMCB-17 Seabees, training them in how to load and unload heavy construction equipment on the aircraft.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Mefford, a Seabees equipment operator, said she's already learned things she never knew or thought of before Patriot Express, such the need to thoroughly clean equipment before loading it into an aircraft.
"I've never done this type of exercise before, so it's something that will help me to know what to do when we get ready to go on deployment," said PO2 Mefford. "We'll be at least a little versed in how to do it."
Lt. Borowski cited the effectiveness of the joint-service work with the Seabees.
"We get to use their equipment to train our folks on airlift, but we also get to train the Seabees on how to load their cargo onto an aircraft if they ever have to," he said. "It's a joint training mission that's very effective and cost-efficient," he said.
"Patriot Express is one of several Air Force Reserve Command-wide ALCF exercises held each year and is an important tool in keeping everyone qualified on their jobs," he added.
The exercise wrapped up Saturday, August 11, 2012.