‘Nomads’ to add lift capacity with 5th Hercules

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Unread post08 Nov 2014, 15:28

The Florida Times-Union wrote:‘Nomads’ to add lift capacity with 5th Hercules
By Clark Pierce, Editor
Wed, Nov 5, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

“The operational pace at VR-62 is very up tempo because our squadron has no active duty counterpart, so we fly like an active duty squadron,” said VR-62 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bryon Smith in a recent interview at the “Nomads” hangar aboard NAS Jacksonville.

The Nomads will soon become a five-aircraft squadron. With the Marine Corps Reserve transitioning from the C-130T to the C-130J variant of the Hercules, the Marines’ excess C-130Ts were distributed among the five Navy C-130T squadrons in the Fleet Logistics Support Wing.

“Our fifth Hercules is currently in a military depot being inspected, modified and painted.

“We’re looking forward to accepting our ‘new’ aircraft sometime in December. This will give us more flexibility to execute our mission, because we anticipate another record-setting year,” said Smith, a selective reservist.

The Nomads are one of five Navy C-130T reserve squadrons that maintain a continuous deployment cycle to: Sigonella, Italy (EUCOM); Bahrain (CENTCOM); and Atsugi, Japan (PACOM).

Smith added, “We’re currently supporting 6th Fleet with one aircraft deployed at NAS Sigonella – but we’ll soon ‘surge’ a second Hercules due to greater demand from Navy and Marine Corps forces in the area.”

VR-62 aircraft that are not on deployment support NALO (Naval Aviation Logistics Office) missions that are tasked from New Orleans, La. NALO lift missions usually originate or terminate in the Continental United States.

“While we’re now assigned five Hercules aircraft – we’re only manned for four – so the wing is working with us to manage the manpower challenge,” said Smith.

“Our approaching surge assignments (two-aircraft deployments) are unusual. We did one last year, flying two planes in the Pacific, while our remaining aircraft flew NALO missions.”

Smith said the Nomads are ready to lift any cargo on short notice.

What about the Ebola support effort in western Africa?

“At this point, we may not fly Ebola support directly into Liberia – but what we’re transporting may eventually end up in Liberia. Right now, AFRICOM is one of the largest theaters serviced by Navy VR squadrons – and it may require additional surge aircraft.

“From Sigonella, we fly a majority of missions in support of Carrier Strike Groups and other ships that require priority cargo. Most recently, VR-62 flew cargo to the new Naval Support Facility in Deveselu, Romania.”

In 2015, the Nomads will mark a number of milestones:

• 5th year operating from NAS Jacksonville;

• 29 years of operations without a mishap;

• 30th anniversary of the squadron’s establishment;

• 20th year of flying the C-130 Hercules;

• 100th anniversary of the Navy Reserve.

“Even though our people constantly juggle their family, a civilian job and serving the Navy Reserve – this is the third year in a row that the Nomads have exceeded their flight hours of the previous year. Also, in November of 2013, Commander Naval Air Forces inspected VR-62 noting that we scored ‘near perfect’ – and out of 39 programs, nearly half received Bravo-Zulus,” exclaimed Smith. “Our squadron’s performance comes from being very motivated and caring about what we do. We’re blessed with great leadership among our chiefs and first class petty officers who will not accept ‘average’ results. I’m very fortunate for the opportunity to work with people who pursue excellence.”

Come March 2015, the Nomads will operate from multiple locations due to the NAS Jax runway closure. The admin and operations team will remain at NAS Jax Hangar 1000; the C-130s will fly from Cecil Airport; New Orleans will provide phase maintenance; and Atsugi, Japan will be the deployment site.

http://members.jacksonville.com/militar ... h-hercules
Plane side on a cloudless morning, "Nomads" Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bryon Smith stands by one of his squadrons' five C-130T Hercules aircraft on the ramp near NAS Jax Hangar 1000. [Photo by Clark Pierce]
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