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Reserve unit takes over Pacific Refueling Operations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
More than 100 Airmen and four KC-135 Stratotankers from the 434th Air Refueling Wing arrived on Guam to take over Pacific Refueling Operations from the 171st Air Refueling Wing Dec. 31

The 434th ARW are deployed here from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., to support the continuous bomber presence and theater security package, refueling B-52 Stratofortresses, the F-22's scheduled to arrive here mid-January, and other aircraft that have a vital role in Andersen's global deterrence mission.

The 434th ARW will also support many exercises throughout the pacific, like the upcoming Cope North exercise, a two week bilateral exercise involving units from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Japan Air Self Defense Force scheduled for the beginning of February.

"We are here primarily to support the Continuous Bomber Presence mission at Andersen, but, as one of the primary refueling operations in the pacific, we also support air refueling requests from units throughout the pacific." said Lt. Col. Mark Sigler, deployed 434th ARW squadron commander.

Pacific refueling operations will be conducted by two teams of Airmen from Grissom, with each team deploying for 60 days.

"The majority of the initial team will swap out near the end of February, with the exception of around 20 Airmen, who will remain in place for the duration of Grissom's 120-day tasking," said Colonel Sigler, who is deployed here for the fourth time in six years. "Grissom is unique within the Air Force Reserve in that we are a completely self-sustaining force. We have brought many types of Airmen with us including aircraft maintenance specialists, combat communications, intelligence, our own flight surgeon, and all the equipment we need to fly and sustain our aircraft."

Another strength that the 434th ARW brings to the mission here is continuity. The past four units to deploy here have been Air National Guard units who rotated Airmen out of Guam every two weeks, leaving little continuity between pilots of other platforms and the tankers.

Each aircraft also deploys with highly experienced maintenance personnel and aircrew wherever it goes.

"Some of our maintainers have been working on the same aircraft for the past 10 to 15 years, so they have exceptional pride of ownership in their aircraft ," The commander continued. "The pride in their work is obvious, after we landed, none of our aircraft had any type of maintenance problem with them, which is a testament to their attention-to-detail."

Even as their Airmen and some aircraft were still arriving Dec. 31, the 434th ARW accepted a request from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron to refuel them during a local training sortie.

"The support we have received from Andersen in the short time we have been here has been exceptional. From lodging and the dining facility, to the permanent party maintenance and operations personnel, they have truly made our integration into operations here seamless," Colonel Sigler said.