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Year in Review: Reserve Airlift Wing delivers in 2016

Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, passes the 302nd Airlift Wing guide on to Col. James DeVere during an assumption of command ceremony April 2, 2016, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. DeVere comes to the 302AW from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., where he was the 94th Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Amber Sorsek)

YEAR IN REVIEW: For the Citizen Airmen assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, 2016 was filled with world-wide deployments and exercises, a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System activation, changes in leadership and outstanding achievements. Above, Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, 22nd Air Force commander, passes the 302nd Airlift Wing guide on to Col. James DeVere during an assumption of command ceremony April 2, 2016, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. DeVere comes to the 302AW from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., where he was the 94th Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Amber Sorsek)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

For the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, 2016 began with the mobilization and deployment of approximately 150 Air Force Reservists and four C-130s in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Over the course of the deployment hundreds of missions were flown to include airlifting passengers, cargo, and aeromedical evacuation patients throughout Southwest Asia. The deployed Aircraft Maintenance Unit was recognized for consistently providing quality aircraft throughout the deployment resulting in their winning the AMU of the Month Award in the deployed location in the months of February, March and April 2016.

 

While the operations and maintenance deployment was ongoing, more than a dozen members of the 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron were also deployed to various overseas locations.

 

In March of 2016 the wing bid farewell to commander, Col. Jack H. Pittman, Jr. upon the occasion of his retirement after serving more than seven years as 302nd AW commander and 33 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. Pittman was presented the Legion of Merit award during his retirement ceremony.

 

During the March Unit Training Assembly the wing recognized its 2015 annual award winners: Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Dava MacDonald, 302nd AW Command Post; Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Technical Sgt. Raymond Shaw, 302nd Communications Flight; Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Eric Cross, 731st Airlift Squadron; First Sergeant of the Year, Master Sgt. Cortney Shank, 302nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron; Company Grade Officer of the Year, Capt. Ashley Parker, 302nd Operations Support Squadron and Field Grade Officer of the Year, Lt. Col. Nathan Day, 302nd AW Command Post.

 

On April 2, 2016, Saturday of the April UTA, the wing welcomed Col. James R. DeVere as commander of the 302nd AW during an assumption of command ceremony officiated by then, 22nd AF Commander, Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris.

 

A change of responsibility ceremony was held Sunday of the wing’s April UTA where outgoing 302nd AW Command Chief Master Sgt. Otis L. Jones, Jr. relinquished responsibility to incoming 302nd AW Command Chief  Master Sgt. Vicki Robertson. 

 

May 2-6 marked the beginning of the reserve wing’s participation in the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) mission for 2016.  Aircrew, aircraft maintainers and support personnel traveled to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif. for ground and classroom training and to perform MAFFS containment water drops during the U.S. Forest Service-hosted training week. May also marked the end of a successful mobilization and return of the wing’s deployed C-130s and Airmen from Southwest Asia.

 

One month later, the 302nd Maintenance Group and wing safety personnel provided support to the local response to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird F-16 aircraft accident near Peterson Air Force Base. The mishap occurred after a flyby of the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation, June 2, 2016.

 

In June the 302nd AW took part in the Air Force Reserve’s celebration of 100 Years of Reserve Air Power by participating in the AFRC C-130 Special Missions event at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The 302nd AW MAFFS-equipped C-130 joined a “Hurricane Hunter” – weather reconnaissance C-130 from the 403rd Wing, Keesler AFB, Miss. along with a Modular Aerial Spray System aircraft from the 910th AW, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.

 

During the evening hours of July 28, a record-setting thunderstorm carrying hail stones the size of baseballs pounded Peterson Air Force Base and the surrounding local area. Base facilities, equipment, vehicles and a portion of the wing's C-130 aircraft fleet sustained damage.  Airmen with the 302nd Maintenance Group thoroughly inspected aircraft affected and began repair work immediately.  Despite the issues created by the storm, flying training and a short-turn MAFFS activation that came less than one week after the storm prevailed.

 

August 3, 302nd AW Reservists and MAFFS C-130s along with the 153rd AW, Wyoming Air National Guard received a request for assistance from the National Interagency Fire Center and were activated and deployed to Boise, Idaho to support fire suppression missions in the Great Basin region of the Northwestern United States. The original request for assistance was extended, lengthening the week-long activation to one month, resulting in 165 retardant drops releasing 395,632 gallons by the two MAFFS wings.

 

The wing held its annual Employer Appreciation Day event August 5, here, where 45 civilian employers of Air Force Reservists participated in informational briefings, hands-on activities and took part in a local C-130 training mission, orientation flight. 

 

August 6, the wing held its annual family day and “Herc Adventure Tour” events bringing families and friends of reservists to Peterson AFB where a picnic lunch was hosted and an afternoon of games and entertainment followed.

 

In September the wing successfully completed its Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI), Capstone Event receiving an overall Effective rating.

 

Later in 2016, six enlisted Reserve Airmen assigned to the 302nd AW received promotion in rank as a result of the Stripes for Exceptional Performers II program. The promotions included one to the highest enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant.

 

The wing honored local Veterans with a C-130 flyover of the November 5, Colorado Springs Veterans Day parade, one of the nation’s largest Veterans Day parades according to the event’s website. 

 

Additional training exercises sending the wing’s Citizen Airmen and aircraft world-wide, events, and visits involving 302nd Airlift Wing members in 2016 included:  the wing’s hosting of Vietnam War C-130 veterans for a visit and tour of 302nd AW C-130; the 34th AES hosted an Aeromedical Evacuation exercise on three primary AE aircraft platforms (C-130, C-17 and KC-135) at Peterson AFB; members of the 302nd Civil Engineer Squadron assisted with the building of homes for a Tribal Nation in Gallup, N.M. during their Annual Tour training and a tribute 5k run was sponsored by the 39th Aerial Port Squadron in honor of fallen logistics Airmen. The wing’s participation in training exercises included Atlantic Resolve, Powidz AB, Poland, Central Accord 2016; Patriot Warrior Ft. McCoy, Wis.; Green Flag 2016, Alexandria Intl, La.; and Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2016.

 

Along with operational accomplishments, the wing’s enlisted Airmen can be credited with numerous developmental accomplishments including 17 Airmen completing Airman Leadership School and 49 Airmen earning their Community College of the Air Force degrees in 2016.

 

And finally, the year ended with representatives from across the wing participating in a strategic alignment event, updating the wing’s mission, vision and priorities. Goals stemming from the alignment event will set the direction for the wing in 2017.  

 

Reflecting on the events of this past year, 302nd Airlift Wing commander, Col. James R. DeVere noted, “2016 was an outstanding and very busy year for Mile High Wing. I am extremely proud of our Airmen’s professionalism and their accomplishments. Our team continued to take on multiple challenges, and successfully delivered in every mission we support.” 

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui