You answered the call

  • Published
  • By Col. Jamie Crowhurst
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander
Greetings Team McConnell. Airpower!

What an amazing couple of months we've had.

While we continued providing Ready Mobility and Airmen to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we executed a robust exercise schedule to be prepared to support U.S. Strategic Command and respond to unforeseen world events.

When we set this plan in motion, little did we know that social change would sweep across the Middle East and a tragic natural disaster would strike Japan and U.S. Pacific Command. What we counted on was your dedication to contribute where needed and adapt as missions changed, you shined and advanced the reputation of our team.

We got the call soon after the United Nations passed a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya to protect its citizens. Within twenty-four hours of notification you generated eight aircraft and over one hundred active duty and reserve Airmen to deploy to Moron Air Base, Spain. We were fortunate enough to have one of our teammates in the right place at the right time. Lt. Col. Paul Scott happened to be in Moron supporting fighter rotations into the desert when the call to action came.

As a former weapons school instructor, he had all the right tools to stand up the expeditionary air refueling squadron at Moron that quickly became part of a total force expeditionary wing. Under his superb leadership, the deployed team quickly engaged and not only supported the no fly zone enforcement but also executed a tanker four-ship that rendezvoused with B-2 on their way to strike strategic targets in Libya.

At the same time, several of our tankers and teammates led by Lt. Col. Pamela Freeland were diverted from Presidential support missions to augment the North East Tanker Task Force that moved additional assets to the fight and supported long range strikes.

Members of our logistics readiness squadron also got the call to support the 184th Munitions Squadron as they generated some of the firepower used in the fight. As operations intensified, our deployed maintainers, led by Maj. Joey Balk and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Kitt, did a fabulous job keeping our jets in the air.

The deployed wing commander, Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff praised them for their leadership and the entire McConnell team for their contributions.

In the first two weeks of Operation Odyssey Dawn, over 280 missions were flown offloading 16.5 million pounds of fuel to over 1,400 coalition aircraft. As your commander, I couldn't be prouder as the accolades continue to roll in.

The contributions of our teammates to the current fight in Libya and our ability to adapt were not lost on the leadership of Air Mobility Command . Last week I attended AMC's commander conference and most at the conference knew we were supporting the fight, and specifically what Team McConnell along with the entire tanker community had accomplished to get there. That said, it was still a big surprise when we got the word that due to the tasking, generation and launching of our forces in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the 931st Air Refueling Group (along with several other tanker wings) were given credit for the majority of our Operational Readiness Inspection requirements. This means instead of a flyaway ORI in October, we and the 931st ARG will have a few days of inspection at home station.

We'll show the Inspector General team our ability to survive and operate while we command and control forces in a chemical or biological threat environment. This will downsize our future exercise schedule and provide you and your families some much needed and deserved down time.

I thank you for your continued dedication to our mission to protect our great nation and the many freedoms that we enjoy.