Westover Concludes In-Place Activation, Draws High Praise

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Elinor Mayo
  • 439th Airlift Wing

Supporting worldwide rapid global mobility operations, five aircrews operating Westover-based C-5M Super Galaxies transported over 6,000 tons of cargo and over 1,000 personnel during the in-place activation that concluded March 5. 

Designated in November 2023 as the lead Reserve airlift wing, Citizen Airmen operated the 439th Airlift Wing C-5Ms for missions in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command. 

Operation Spartan Shield began as a short-term, 32-day volunteer activation focused on picking up C-17 Globemaster III airlift taskings, so those aircraft could in-turn support other global requirements and move cargo and humanitarian supplies. This same operational tasking was then extended to an involuntary call up spanning 90 more days.

“[The lack of C-17’s] left a huge vacuum of things everywhere that needed to be moved”, said Major Mark Manello, 337th Airlift Squadron aircraft commander.  “That’s why we were doing the South American missions – it was in support of counterdrug missions that the Army does. Because C-17s were not available, we were able to do it,”

During the initial call-up, and with less than 48 hours’ notice, 24 Patriot Wing aircrew members began flying missions worldwide.  A combined 378 flight hours netted the transport of nearly 1,900 tons of cargo and 335 passengers.  

Following the original mobilization, the C-5M crews flew an additional 230 sorties, supporting a wide variety of multifaceted operations. Five aircrews, comprised of the 40 airmen from Westover ARB and 16 airmen from the 512th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB, DE, accrued a total of 918 flying hours while transporting 4,466 tons of cargo and 900 personnel.

The combined Westover-Dover team compiled impressive statistics – 1,296 flight hours, 6,331 tons of cargo and 1,234 passengers.  This performance garnered praise from Gen. Michael Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander, who labeled Westover as “Task Force Galaxy.”

The C-5M Super Galaxy is the largest cargo plane in the U.S. Air Force and can transport up to 281,001 lbs. of cargo on a single mission. Operated by an aircrew of eight, this aircraft can fly over 2,500 nautical miles on a single trip. When assisted by aerial refueling, the distance and time this aircraft can operate is only limited by the endurance of the crew and the needs of the mission.