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Refueling Reservists deploy to Guam to support TSP

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
More than 100 Airmen and four KC-135 Stratotankers from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., deployed here at the end April. 

The unit is assigned to the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron to support the Theater Security Package in the Western Pacific as part of the continuing support to the region. 

"The 506th EARS supports all types of refueling missions across the Pacific, including missions to support the Navy and the Marine Corps," said Lt. Col. Alan R. Thurber, 506th EARS director of operations. "We fly air refueling training sorties with bombers and fighters at Andersen Air Force Base around the clock, ensuring the aircrews are current and ready to accomplish their operational missions. We are an integral part of the regions security and stability, greatly enhancing force projection." 

Aircraft mechanics in the squadron are also part of the 100-plus Airmen assigned to the unit and assist the mission by keeping the Truman-era aircraft flying. 

"The maintainers of the 506th EARS contributed to the mission, before even arriving, by giving our flyers four aircraft that arrived at Andersen with no maintenance problems," said Lt. Col. Rick B. Wilson, 506th EARS commander. "This trend has not changed since we initiated our flying schedule, as our maintainers have been doing an outstanding job keeping the aircraft flying through our first couple of weeks here. 

"We are fortunate to have maintainers with years of experience who have been on many deployments," he said. "Their dedication to accomplish the mission is impressive and noteworthy, with all of them willing to work whatever hours it takes to fix the aircraft and meet mission requirements." 

Integration with the 36th Wing, the host unit here, was an important goal for the leadership of the 506th EARS. 

"Integration is a big goal here," he said. "We want to support the wing, and the community, in any way we can. Immediately after arriving, we have been impressed by the support we received from Andersen AFB personnel and want to be able to assist as they have for our unit." 

Offering static display aircraft and incentive flights to not only Andersen, but also to the local community are two ways the squadron contributes to the integration. 

As the 506th EARS first sergeant, Master Sgt. Randall D. Cooper is responsible for the morale and welfare of the enlisted and has seen nothing but smiling faces while walking around. 

"Everyone is having a good time," Sergeant Cooper said. "I know they are very excited about being here. They've enjoyed the work as well as the recreational activities offered."
The refueling squadron looks forward to the opportunity to support TSP, as well as the Continuous Bomber Presence with any mission that comes their way. 

While the tankers fall under the TSP, they are able to assist in a variety of missions, from aero medical evacuations to cargo transport. 

The reserve unit recently participated in a large training exercise, which was successful at all levels. 

"We have heard from Tactical Airlift Control Center that the recent Polar Lightning exercise was the most successful to date," Colonel Thurber said. "We contributed four successful tanker missions offloading more than 300,000 pounds of fuel." 

The Reservists will be here until June, at which point they will move to Alaska for an exercise and another tanker unit will take their place. Tankers have been continuously stationed on Guam since 2004. 

"Overall, we are extremely happy to be here and look forward to the weeks ahead before our mission takes the entire squadron north to Alaska," Colonel Wilson said. 

Fellow Reservists from their home station will meet them in Alaska and, after the exercise concludes, the relief crew will continue the mission for the remainder of the Air and Space Expeditionary Forces window for the 452nd AMW.