KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Members of the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron spent more than 20 days this month in Wisconsin driving between Volk Field Air National Guard Base and Total Force Training Center Fort McCoy in support of Patriot Warrior.
Patriot Warrior is Air Force Reserve Command’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity for Reserve Citizen Airmen to train with joint and international partners in airlift, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support operations with the goal of ensuring reservists from all branches of service can perform responsibilities in support of the reserve missions in all operational situations.
Members from the transportation section of the 403rd LRS from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, 916th Logistics Readiness Squadron from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and the 940th LRS from Beale AFB, California were the driving force in making sure the exercise participants arrived to Total Force Training Center Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
Tech. Sgt. James Baggott, 403rd LRS vehicle control officer, said that while working together in two shifts, they were able to ensure that equipment, military members, and vehicles arrived at the exercise “play” area.
The vehicle operators were driving 28 and 44 passenger buses, tractor trailers pulling 40-foot trailers and even low boy trailers, which are used to move heavy equipment such as excavators, forklifts and more.
Because the vehicle operators were using an older version low-boy trailer, they had to work together to figure out the controls and get an excavator loaded. Tech. Sgt. Johnathan Simmons, a 403rd LRS vehicle operator, said that working with the low-boy was different than what he was used to working with, but after seeing and working with it, he can see how it can be used for other purposes.
“We were able to get actual on the road time for training and practical purposes,” said Baggott. “The trip between Fort McCoy and Volk Field was 30 miles one way, and by working with members of other units, we were able to show our different skill sets and abilities, learn from each other, all while sharpening our own abilities.”
Simmons said that working as part of the support package for Patriot Warrior was a great experience due to working with other vehicle operators outside of the 403rd LRS, the training that everyone received, which can be brought back to their home station to be shared.
“We could benefit from participating in the actual exercise,” said Simmons. “If the exercise included the situation of a downed aircraft, we are the ones that would actually come out and remove the aircraft, which would provide valuable training and readiness capability.”
Both Baggott and Simmons said that this exercise would greatly benefit the newer Airmen because they would get to work with other units and also get to see equipment that Keesler doesn’t have on hand.
The group of vehicle operators not only accomplished multiple training tasks, they also assisted with another exercise that was being conducted at the same time called Northern Lightning, which involved personnel and cargo from multiple active duty Air Force, National Guard, Marine and Navy units. The vehicle operators moved approximately 110,000 pounds of cargo and more 200 passengers to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin for Northern Lightning.