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Lt. Col. Max Kronenbitter
Lt. Col. Max Kronenbitter, German Luftwaffe, enjoys a flight aboard a 403rd Wing WC-130J; he also flew with the 815th Airlift Squadron aboard their C-130J-30. Kronenbitter was one of two officers hosted by the 403rd Wing as part of the Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange Program. The purpose of the DoD ROFEP is to provide National Guard and Reserve officers training associated with mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with the military individuals of the host nation. To learn more about the program visit the DoD ROFEP website at http://ra.defense.gov/programs/rtm/rofep.html. (photo courtesy of Lt. Col.Thomas Vauderwange)
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Luftwaffe officers enjoy southern hospitality

Posted 6/22/2012   Updated 6/22/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by 403rd Wing Public Affairs
403rd Wing


6/22/2012 - Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. -- The 403rd Wing hosted two German Luftwaffe Reserve officers for two weeks as part of the Department of Defense Reserve Officer Foreign Exchange Program. The purpose of the DoD ROFEP is to provide National Guard and Reserve officers training associated with mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with the military individuals of the host nation. To learn more about the program visit the DoD ROFEP website at http://ra.defense.gov/programs/rtm/rofep.html.

The following commentaries are the officers' reflections on visiting the Citizen Airmen of the 403rd.

Best choice made
By Lt. Col. Max Kronenbitter

'Chill out, people, PA is handling it!' says a sign on at the front door of the public affairs office, showing a squirrel with his paws in the air. Good to know for the entire 403rd Wing, who might have any public affairs related problems. The challenge for me is to learn, what and how PA is handling it.

Coming from the German Luftwaffe (air force) - public affairs headquarters in Cologne, Germany, I was very happy to be selected for the 28th US-German Reserve Officer Exchange Program 2012. After two days in Washington D.C., where we visited the Pentagon and different historical monuments, the 21 Army, Navy and Air Force Reserve officers separated to bases located all over the States.

I applied for and chose to come to the 403rd Wing, because my former unit was the 61st Air Transport Wing at Landsberg, Germany, flying tactical airlift missions to Afghanistan with the C-160. It turned out to be the best choice!

The Public Affairs staff took me to TV-interviews, a board-meeting with the D'Iberville Chamber of Commerce and gave me a good impression about how much effort it took to set up the Hurricane Hunters TV series now showing on The Weather Channel. However, PA isn't just about dealing with the media; it is also about strengthening relationships between the Wing and the community. In order to accomplish this, PA arranges tours for civic leaders, congressional members, school children, and many other groups who want to learn about the Wing's mission.

I was given the opportunity to fly with each of the Wing's flying squadrons: the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Hurricane Hunters), and the 815th and 345th Airlift Squadrons (Flying Jennies and Golden Eagles respectively). The Hurricane Hunters showed me how they collect data within hurricanes through their use of dropsondes, while the Flying Jennies and Golden Eagles showed me how they conduct heavy-cargo air drops. These flights were the highlight of my two-week stay at Keesler Air Force Base.
I not only experienced the military side of life in Mississippi, but was also able to take a day trip to New Orleans, go on a swamp tour to see alligators, and visit the gorgeous beach at Ship Island. Above all I made friends with the many great people I met. Too bad, my annual active duty trainings back in Germany aren't as much fun.


From the engine room
By Lt. Col. Thomas Vauderwange

Wouldn't you think this to be a proper headline for a commentary from a German Air Force Maintenance Officer, here for a two-week exchange program? Come to think of it, I could also have titled it 'From the flight deck,' as I had the honor and pleasure to fly with the 'Hurricane Hunters,' 'Flying Jennies,' and 'Golden Eagles.'

My assignment here mirrored that of my Luftwaffe position as the 33rd Fighter Bomber Wing Maintenance Group Commander at Buchel AFB, Germany. I was sent to the 403rd Maintenance Group to find out about the things done similar - and different. First difference of course, we have Tornado fighter planes, and it's C-130s over here; that is no problem. Then, the climate; in the Eifel Mountains, where Buchel AFB is, and in the Black Forest where I live, it would not be this warm and humid. Of course, I had fair warning before I came here so I was prepared.

The big surprise and difference over here is that you have full-time reservists called Air Reserve Technicians and seemingly great support by the employers of the Traditional Reservists; nothing like this exists in Germany. Whoever is a reservist, will come in whenever his employer will let him go for a few weeks; sometimes, there's years between two reserve duties. The whole thing works the opposite way: you're a full-time employee in a company, and this is your first and foremost priority; only when your company feels ok with it, they will agree and let you go for your 'hobby' - believe it or not - that's what people take our Reserve Duty for.

After some days in the U.S. capitol, we flew to Keesler and were met by a whole bunch of friendly people that took us around, wanted to know where we came from and how things are over there. Monday morning, 6:45 am, the show got started with the Maintenance morning briefing. The first day, I simply tried to figure out all the abbreviations - and of course the different accents spoken. I also tried to make head and tail of the daily summary sheet listing all that you ever wanted to know about all of the 403rd's airplanes. Well, believe it or not, after a few clarifying questions and the commander's briefing, it was pretty clear the same essential terminology and system is used as we have it with our Tornado birds.

Walking through the different shops of the Maintenance Group, the impression gets more distinct: what a great plane you have over here!

It was great to be here, thanks a lot to all the people who took us around and shared their daily work with us.



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