Team MacDill, assets support EXERCISE RED FLAG - ALASKA

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rito Smith
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Airmen with the 6th Maintenance Group, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) and the 6th Operations Group (OG) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, “deployed” to Alaska in support of EXERCISE RED FLAG – ALASKA, readily equipped to provide aerial refueling and aircraft maintenance capabilities.

Even though the tactical air and land combat exercise only lasted from Aug. 8 – 19, 2016, the supply Airmen with the 6th LRS began preparing long before then.

“The [KC-135 Stratotanker] has a unique capability of not only being a refueling aircraft, but also being able to transport cargo,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Shaw, NCOIC of air freight assigned to the 6th LRS. “Because of this, we were able to load everything onto the 135s that might have been needed during the exercise as far as maintenance and supplies were concerned. We spent days prior to the exercise planning how to load the aircraft and passengers to ensure the planes were balanced and ready to fly.”

Comprised of 26 units, RED FLAG – ALASKA brought together service members from various mission sets and services to support simulated combat sorties in a realistic threat environment. Likewise, MacDill utilized Airmen from various units around base to contribute to the mission as well.

Specifically, maintainers from MacDill worked diligently to ensure Airmen from the 6th OG were equipped with prepared aircraft to refuel and support the rest of the joint warfighter mission.

As for the Logistics Airmen, their mission consisted of many parts. The Airmen at MacDill acted as loadmasters; planning and loading approximately 33,000 lbs. of equipment onto two KC-135s as well as 35 passengers that were sent in support of RED FLAG - ALASKA.

“Our job at MacDill was to ensure any equipment needed to support our Aircraft was properly documented before being loaded and shipped out,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Shaw, NCO in charge of air freight assigned to the 6th LRS. “If our aircraft were maintained then they could in turn keep the other aircraft refueled and ready to go.”

In support of the exercise, MacDill sent two 6th LRS supply Airmen to Eielson AFB to act as supply representatives for the KC-135.

“As the supply representative, maintainers came to me if they needed parts for anything broken,” said Staff Sgt. Kelsey Shaw, NCOIC of aircraft parts store assigned to the 6th LRS. “I let them know if we brought the parts needed to fix the aircraft or if we needed to get them from the Eielson Guard unit or another base.”

Additionally, logistics Airmen played a key role in the exercise by supporting maintainers and pilots. They provided maintainers with the equipment needed to keep the KC-135s flying, thus ensuring fighter jets could be refueled.

“Prior to leaving, I prepared two segments of kits to deploy which contained parts that Air Mobility Command determined are common parts that break on the KC-135,” said Kelsey Shaw. “These kits are designed to support four aircraft for up to 30 days. I used these kits to fill maintenance part requests.”

The 6th LRS Airmen successfully supported the mission of making sure our KC-135’s could get in the air to refuel other aircraft and continue the mission by enabling maintainers to keep our aircraft mission ready.

“If we can’t get our KC-135s in the air to refuel, then the fighters can’t do their mission either,” said Kelsey Shaw. “It’s awesome to be out there and see that your job directly impacts the mission.”

For her outstanding work in support of RED FLAG – ALASKA, Staff Sgt. Kelsey Shaw received an award for top performer from Col. William Bowman, the deployed force commander, and was coined by Lt. Col. Marie Meihls, the 354th LRS commander, as well as Chief Master Sgt. John Crawley, the 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent.