February 24, 2014 (by SMSgt. Eric Peterson) - A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and its crew of four assigned to the153rd Airlift Wing of the Wyoming Air National Guard participated in the February unit training assembly at the 120th Fighter Wing.
Wyoming ANG members unload a truck at the 120th FW on February 8, 2014 in preparation for aerial port training during the drill weekend. [ANG photo by 2nd Lt. Robin Jirovsky]
The Wyoming Guardsmen flew to the base located at the Great Falls International Airport to help train their Montana counterparts in the procedures of off-loading and loading cargo into the transport aircraft.
The Montana unit is currently undergoing a mission conversion to C-130s from the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft. The 120 FW is scheduled to receive its first aircraft in March.
According to the 153rd Airlift Wing official web page, the unit has been flying transport aircraft since 1961 and has been assigned the C-130 airframe since 1972. The fifty-three years of airlift experience the Wyoming unit has accumulated is a valuable commodity to tap for the Montanans as they continue on in the conversion process.
Master Sgt. Randy Patrick, an Air Transportation Specialist from Wyoming, made the trip to Montana to share his knowledge and experience with the newly-selected "aerial porters" of the 120 FW.
"We're getting them (Montanans) familiar with the planes" said Patrick. "They're all super-smart, they all come from different career fields and I'm sure they can handle it. We're going to teach them to do a totally different job, coming from a fighter mission to a cargo mission."
Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Parker is the new Aerial Port Supervisor for the Montana unit. She appreciated the hands-on training that the experienced Wyoming Airmen provided.
"Almost everybody is moving into a new career field," Parker said. "I'm actually a supply troop and I'm cross-training into the aerial port terminal.
Parker said that the Wyoming Airmen covered the different heights and weights allowed on the aircraft, how to build parachutes and associated rigging duties, and the paperwork that goes with the job.
"It's been a huge advantage having them, and in the two days that the Wyoming guys have been here I've learned a ton of what I need to for the aerial port terminal," said Parker. "The most important aspects of our job essentially, is what they're helping us out with."
Parker sees a lot of similarity in the flying requirements dictated by the geography of each location. Both bases in Cheyenne, Wyo. and Great Falls, Mont. are located at civilian airports and sit on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. C-130 crews will train to operate in the high winds often experienced at these airports.
Patrick looks forward to building upon the Wyoming-Montana relationship and developing a network of individuals between the states willing to share their education and experience.
"Guard units are family, that's just what it is," said Patrick. I come up here and they treat me like one of their own. We would do the same to them. Anytime they need training or anything we can do to help them out, I'm sure we would go out of our way to do it. Anytime we would need help, I'm sure they would do the same for us."