June 3, 2014 (by Capt. Jason Yuhasz) - Aircraft and nearly 50 personnel from the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing are set to participate in the multi-national exercise, Allied Forge, in Corsica, France, and the United Kingdom during May and June.
Nevada ANG 2nd Lt. Lewis Roberts, left, executive officer, and MSgt. Kevin Walen, C-130 Hercules flight engineer, both from the 152nd OG, discuss flight information prior to takeoff at the Reno ANGB, on May 23, 2014, in support of Allied Forge 2014. [USAF photo by TSgt. Erica J. Knight]
The participants will conduct combined training and operations with several forces including the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, the French Army's 11th Parachute Brigade, the British Army's 16th Air Assault Brigade and forces from several other countries.
Upon arriving in Corsica, the 152nd will be involved in an interoperability exercise with French Army forces. Upon completing the exercises, the 152nd will participate in events that commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which occurred on June 6, 1944.
Aircrews, maintenance and support personnel will perform their Air Force jobs in a multi-national operation on foreign soil. Operations will include cargo air drops, paratrooper drops, and other airborne activities for which the 152nd's C-130 aircraft are well suited.
Air Guard involvement began when Lt. Col. Jon Schulstad, commander of the 152nd Operations Support Squadron, reached-out to the National Guard Bureau offering the Wing's services to help with the D-Day commemorative operations. Coordination then became the responsibility of Majors Evan Kirkwood and Jason Little of the 192nd Airlift Squadron. The two majors were involved in much of the Wing's planning and coordination for this exercise and commemoration.
"We've worked with the 82nd Airborne folks for several months now, and have developed a good working relationship," Little said. "We believe that participating in this exercise will lead to the 152nd becoming the premier airlift unit for support to exercises and events like these in the future. We're very excited to take part in such an important historical event."
In addition to the personnel who will deploy overseas, multiple Airmen and offices were involved to ensure the preparedness of those deploying. Pre-deployment requirements such as medical checks and travel orders had to be double-checked. Teamwork was paramount to ensure a successful trip.
"It requires a great deal of teamwork and coordination to prepare our deployers for a trip like this," said Schulstad. "I'm grateful for the efforts of all the people in the various offices on base who helped make this trip possible." The original "D-Day" invasion, Operation Overlord, resulted in 160,000 Allied troops landing along a 50-mile stretch of the French coast. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the operation. Overlord marked the opening of a "second front" in the European Theater of Operations in WWII, and was the beginning of the Allies' drive to Germany, and eventual victory.