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News > Patriot Sands teams Reserve Airmen with federal agencies for contingency exercise
Story at a Glance
 A three-day joint response exercise
 More than 30 Patriot Wing Airmen were part of the Patriot Sands exercise
 Teams of FBI and FEMA employees drove trucks and trailers
 ALCF members hold about five of these types of exercises per year
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Patriot Sands
A Florida sunset backdrops the Westover Air Reserve Base's C-5B Galaxy Feb. 21, 2013 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Patriot Wing Airmen flew aboard the C-5 Galaxy along with more than 70,000 pounds of cargo for Patriot Sands 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe)
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Patriot Sands teams Air Force Reserve Command Airmen with government agencies

Posted 2/26/2013   Updated 12/4/2013 Email story   Print story


by MSgt. Andrew Biscoe
439th AW Public Affairs

2/26/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- A three-day joint response exercise here racked up statistics and solid training that backed up the cooperative success of interagency teamwork in the event of a national contingency.

Patriot Sands 2013 brought in Airmen from Air Force installations coast-to-coast and men and women from federal government agencies who rode aboard and got hands-on training. By the end of the exercise Feb. 23, the combined team of Airmen and federal employees generated 12 airlift missions, moved nearly 200 passengers, and airlifted 1,560 tons of cargo. Westover's contingency response element, Airmen assigned to the 439th Airlift Control Flight, led the effort.

"This revalidated the FBI's and FEMA's abilities to respond to contingencies with our people and aircraft," said Lt. Col. Rodney Furr, operations officer for the exercise.

Shortly after Airmen with a quickly-set up contingency response element got operations under way Feb. 22, C-17 Globemasters from Dover AFB, Del., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, shuttled members and assets of FEMA and the FBI from Homestead Air Reserve Base. The reserve's 512th ALCF was the lead unit at that base, also located in Florida.

Teams of FBI and FEMA employees drove trucks and trailers from the C-17 and onto a Westover C-5 to provide training for the government agencies, and simulate an emergency response. The C-5, flown in with the Westover CRE Airmen and more than 70,000 pounds of cargo Feb. 21, was also used for static loading.

More than 30 Patriot Wing Airmen formed a contingency response element team as Patriot Sands got under way Feb. 22. Six additional Airmen from the Air Force Reserve's 433rd Airlift Wing at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, also took part.

"This is a great training opportunity for the young troops," said MSgt. Careyann Patterson, air transportation craftsman with the 58th Aerial Port Squadron.

One of those newer Airmen was SrA. Maryellen Santiago, an air transportation specialist with the 58th APS. She joined the unit just eight months ago. Upon learning that her unit needed an exercise position filled, she volunteered.

"This was first-hand exposure to what it would be like to be deployed," SrA. Santiago said. "I feel good that I'm trusted to operate machinery around aircraft -- each worth millions of dollars. This made me get really focused on the detail of our operations."

SrA. Santiago and the team of aerial port Airmen waited near the flight line for each arrival, climbing aboard the aircraft to assist loadmasters in securing the trucks and trailers driven onto the C-17s by FEMA and FBI employees. The FEMA and FBI set up a short-term deployment site at MacDill before returning to Homestead.

Not only did the CRE Airmen handle the processing of cargo and passengers, they trained FEMA and FBI men and women how to secure their vehicles aboard the C-17s.

"I showed a woman from the FBI how to tie down a truck," SrA. Santiago said. "A while later she said she'd been able to it herself with another one."

Maj. Rose said reserve ALCFs provide 45 percent of Air Mobility Command's Global Air Mobility Support System mission. ALCFs have participated in every major real-world deployment involving Air Force strategic airlift forces in the past decade, she said.

SMSgt. Desmond Mullally, ALCF superintendent, said one of the most important objectives of Patriot Sands was to give the junior enlisted a chance to get valuable training.

An example of that training was when SrA. Elizabeth Antunez, ALCF PERSCO specialist, wielded a pair of marshaling wands -- for the first time. A few hundred feet away, a C-17 crew awaited her direction.

"I felt like a tiny person next to that huge airplane," she said. "But in terms of responsibility and control, I felt big."

ALCF members hold about five of these types of exercises per year. The next one is scheduled for June.

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