Conch Fury Showcases Strength of Patriot Pride

  • Published
  • By US Air Force Major Katelyn Fabbri
  • 439th Airlift Wing

Several units from the 439th Airlift Wing, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., traveled to Key West, Fla., and Puerto Rico in April to showcase the versatility of multi-capable Airmen.

Operation Conch Fury 2024 demonstrated the ability to conduct off-station agile combat employment aircraft generation at a bare base location, while also incorporating a forward-deployed location. U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Behr, 439th Maintenance Group deputy commander served as the 439th Expeditionary Air Wing commander.

“This event highlights how our Reserve Force maintains readiness to support Combatant Commanders,” Behr said. “MCA training is not intended to provide Airmen with yet another Air Force specialty code, but rather allow them to learn basic skill sets outside of their main duties to augment the overall team when necessary.”

In addition to special staff, more than two-hundred participants from the Operations Group, Maintenance Group, and Mission Support Group established the main training site at Naval Air Station, Key West, simulating a mobilization to the Pacific arena.

Fifty-four members from the 439th Aerospace Staging Squadron, 42nd Aerial Port Squadron, 58th Aerial Port Squadron, 439th Operations Support Squadron, 439th Contingency Response Flight, and the Wing Safety Office forward deployed to Puerto Rico. The week-long training brought together seasoned trainers from various career fields to merge the functions of several career fields allowing for force multiplication.

Jay Wykes, 439th Airlift Wing occupational safety manager said, “the transparency, empathy, and overall understanding built through MCA training reinforced that relationships between units are key to successful and safe contingency response.” 

The ACE framework allows for increased effectiveness across the force and operationalizing MCA directly contributes to this concept by aiding in the integration and interoperability across units that are traditionally siloed.

As lead trainers for their respective specialties, Technical Sergeant Mike Falcione, 439 AEW Maintenance Operations Center, and Senior Airman Anfernee Byam, 42 APS shared the importance of working as a team and preparing others outside of their career fields. 

“The airmen that are young really see the value. We are providing them with a core set of tasks so that they can survive, but also know they are not on their own,” Falcione said. Byam drove this point home by reiterating, “Port Dawgs have so much going on that it is helpful to have maintenance be able to step in and support to back us up.”

Real-world training ensures all Citizen Airmen are ready to answer the call to fight anytime. Operation Conch Fury ensured Airmen receive proficiency training to meet readiness requirements. The lessons learned will inform future operations, particularly real-world deployments.

“Where the learning happens is right now,” said Colonel Gregory Buchanan, 439th Airlift Wing commander during an after-exercise meeting. “We may get the call to go out and pick up the wing and set up a C-5 base, and we are showcasing just how well Westover can do that.”