Saturday, June 27, 2009

476th Fighter Group (AFRC) video clip released

This video clip was released on 442nd Fighter Wing's public website.

Interviewed are Capt. Brian Hatch, A-10 pilot, and Col. Greg Eckfeld, 476th Fighter Group commander.

Related info:

Reservists build associate fighter group at Moody

by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2008 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air Force Reserve Command has come to the Flying Tigers at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in the form of Total Force Integration and, if the stand up of AFRC's 476th Fighter Group is successful as planned, the effort will likely be apparent to no one except perhaps the reservists themselves.

A goal of TFI is to blend active-duty with members of the air reserve component to the point that Guard, Reserve and active-duty members would be indistinguishable from one another in all aspects of their operations. Other TFI efforts in the Air Force Reserve are currently underway at Nellis AFB, Nev., Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Holloman AFB, N.M.

Started in June 2007, as Detachment 1, 442nd Fighter Wing, as part of an ongoing Air Force-wide initiative to more efficiently carry out its mission, the Group will work under its own command structure but will integrate its operations with the 23rd Wing's 74th and 75th Fighter Squadrons and 23rd Maintenance Group.

The unit will include the 76th Fighter Squadron, the 476th Maintenance Squadron and the 476th Aerospace Medicine Flight.

The 76th FS will have 20 members assigned, there will be 160 in the 476th MXS, the 476th AMDF is slated to have 23 medical personnel with the rest will be assigned to the Group staff. When all is said and done, more than 230 will be assigned to the Group.

Col. Greg Ekfeld, currently commanding the detachment, will be the Group's commander, 1st Lt. Alicia Warren, is the executive officer and Susan Sutter, is the Group's secretary.

Beside its several medical technician positions, the 476th AMDF will include flight surgeons, nurses and a dentist who will monitor the Group's medical readiness.

Most traditional maintenance disciplines, such as crew chiefs, loaders and munitions, will be assigned to the 476th MXS and will be commanded by Lt. Col. Pat Webb. Colonel Webb's "maintainers" include Capt. Melissa Tims, maintenance officer, Chief Master Sgt. Robin Chase, the MXS superintendent, Senior Airmen Tracey Robson and Jamie Losee, crew chiefs who are fully integrated into the 75th Fighter Squadron, Senior Airman Dunnuia Martin, a loader and Senior Airman Brandon Abel, munitions.

The flying operation currently has three pilots, Lt. Col. Mickey Moore, the director of operations, Capt. LaRue Russell, the director of training, and Capt. Brian Hatch who has been a mission planning cell chief with the 303rd FS at Whiteman AFB. The pilots are being fully integrated into the base's flying operations and will fly missions on the 23rd Wing's A-10Cs with the active-duty pilots as well as other Reserve pilots.

In June, Captain Russell became the first Reserve fighter pilot to fly an integrated sortie at Moody. Airman Robson was the crew chief for the mission. For the Captain, it was it was a great experience.

"It was very enjoyable to fly the C-model A-10 again," Captain Russell said. "The biggest challenges were remembering the things I learned about flying the A-10C and knocking the rust off."

Colonel Moore, an A-10 pilot with more than 3,700 flying hours, said flying the C-model A-10 is like the A-model but it has its own challenges.

"Flying the airplane is the same," Colonel Moore said. "The difficulty is how to employ the weapons and how to use the new 'toys' smartly. We have the situational awareness and the air sense. Now all of those things that accompany your flying abilities will marry up and we will be very good instructor pilots."

The focus of the reservists has been building up their unit and being able to fly again has been an important milestone in the process.

The unit will continue to train and build experience in the A-10C, said Colonel Eckfeld.

"We want to build a cadre of experience, both pilot and maintenance professionals," he said. "Our pilots are expected to continuously train and instruct Moody pilots."

Moody is proving to be a great operating location for the Group. The nearby range, so close that the sounds of the A-10's gun firing can be heard on base, will give the pilots an excellent opportunity to keep their skills sharp. The 23rd Wing's other flying mission with the 347th Rescue Group with its HC-130 Hercules and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, will enable the A-10 pilots to practice combat search and rescue exercises regularly.

The emphasis for the unit to this point has been to build up their maintenance capabilities. According to Colonel Moore as more maintainers come on board and are able to turn more aircraft with their active-duty counterparts, the unit becomes better situated to accept a greater number of pilots.

"I'd rather see them get healthy with maintenance and have them turn a lot of airplanes," Colonel Moore said. "Then we can start bringing in more pilots."

The maintenance reservists work side-by-side with their counterparts and, according to Master Sgt. James Perdue, their 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron active-duty supervisor, each reservist is, "another one of the troops" on the ramp.

"For the most part, I treat them just like my guys from active-duty," Sergeant Perdue said of Airmen Robson and Losee. "Their training records are set up the same, they go to the same appointments and they are part of the same training process."

Sergeant Perdue understands the level of experience reservists can bring. When reservists passed through the F-16 maintenance course he had taught at Sheppard AFB, Texas, he felt that their presence was positive and beneficial.

"I learned from those guys," he said. "There were times when I had technical sergeants in my class who had been working the same airframe for 20 years. Airmen Robson and Losee are motivated and they (also) bring a lot of experience to the table."

"Sergeant Perdue is great," Airman Losee said. "He really takes care of us and you can't ask for too much more than that."

Airman Robson, with ten years of active-duty behind her as an F-16 crew chief, is glad for the opportunity to be working on the line again. She said one concern she had was a perception if the "older" reservists could hack it.

"Some of these guys think anything beyond 30 is old," Airman Robson joked. "But I think both (Airman Lossee) and I have proven that we can handle the job."

She's quick to add that they've developed a good working relationship with the active-duty Airmen in the process.

"If we have questions," she said, "the guys here are pretty good about answering them and they've been asking us some questions too."

Conversely their active-duty counterparts on the flight line feel the reservists are a good addition.

"They fit in fine," said Airman 1st Class Dave Whiting, a 23rd AMXS crew chief. "They handle everything here the same as everyone else does and I think their being here will really benefit both sides."

"I'll take as many reservists as we can get," Sergeant Perdue added. "Especially if they are of the same caliber as the two we have."

The reservists' experiences integrating with the active-duty is helping to iron out any transition wrinkles that yet-to-be-assigned reservists might face. When an issue of how the reservists would be handled in the maintenance tracking system came up everyone worked to solve it.

"We tracked that down," Sergeant Perdue said. "Now that we have that process, we'll apply those same techniques to the next reservists."

Despite an unforeseen delay caused by an environmental impact study, TFI is a venture that's working slowly but surely at Moody and as the group grows and matures, it is proving to be just what was hoped for.

"It's different than being in a unit-equipped (organization) but different doesn't make it bad," Colonel Webb said. "It's one air Force, one team, one fight and this really is the best way to secure a viable future for the Air Force Reserve. I recommend that people embrace it."

(Airman 1st Class Frances Locquiao, 23rd Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)

Lt. Col. Mickey Moore, a pilot with the 442nd Fighter Wing, Detachment 1, prepares to climb into the cockpit an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a training mission at Moody AFB, Georgia. Colonel Moore is one of several Air Force reservists at Moody laying the groundwork for an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 associate fighter group that will be teamed up with Moody's active-duty 23rd FG. The 23rd FG's parent organization, the 23rd Wing, traces its Air Force roots to the legendary Flying Tigers of World War II. Detachment 1 will become the 476th FG and it will share that lineage. The detachment is a geographically separated unit of the 442nd FW, an AFRC A-10 wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)



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