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New Yorkers Join Other Air Guardsmen in South African Air Show

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Story by: New York Ari National Guard SSgt David Murphy - 106th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
  Dated: Sat, Sep 25, 2010

New Yorkers Join Other Air Guardsmen in South African Air Show
CAPETOWN, South Africa--A Guardian Angel checks wind speed during the African Aerospace and Defense Exposition 2010. Members of the 106th Rescue Wing from F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. took part in the AAD 2010 at Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sept. 24, 2010. The event featured an HH-60 and crew from the 101st Rescue Squadron, Guardian Angels from the 103rd Rescue Squadron and maintenance crew from the 106th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt. David J. Murphy)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa --A host of Air National Guard units from New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island participated in the African Aerospace and Defense Exposition 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa Sept. 21-25.

The 106th Rescue Wing, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., provided an HH-60 and pilots from the 101st Rescue Squadron, pararescuemen from the 103rd Rescue Squadron and maintenance personnel from the 106th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Lt. Col. Rodney Lisec, an HH-60 helicopter pilot, is in charge of operations for the 106th while in South Africa. Lisec also piloted the HH-60 during a demonstration which involved the pararescuemen and a C-130J from the 143rd Airlift Wing out of Rhode Island.

During the air show the pararescuemen, known as Guardian Angels, parachuted out of the C-130J Hercules piloted by the 143rd AW’s Commander, Col. Larry Gallegly. After landing the Guardian Angels provided aid to a simulated victim who was then hoisted up to a waiting Pave Hawk. Lisec noted that this is “pretty standard for the 106th,” and that it is a scenario that they normally train for.

Master Sgt. Kyle Gurnon, a C-130J instructor and loadmaster said that the “Rhode Island Warriors” think that the C-130J is a fantastic aircraft to work with. Their C-130J was the first of its kind taken into combat and has been involved in many missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another aircraft participating in the air show in a more passive manner is the C-5 Galaxy from the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, New York. The C-5, the Air Force’s largest aircraft, carried with it Army National Guard equipment and personnel participating in the air show, including a M1117 Armored Security Vehicle from the 442nd Military Police Company, based in Yonkers, N.Y., the M997 Humvee ambulance from the 466th Area Medical Company out of Queensbury, N.Y. and the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter assigned to Detachment 1, Alpha Co., 1st of the 244th Aviation Security and Support Battalion out of Latham, N.Y.

C-5 Aircraft Commander Lt. Col. Omar Valasquez, is a traditional guardsman who flew the loaded C-5 to South Africa, landing at Cape Town International Airport rather than the Ysterplatt Air Force Base airshow site due to the aircraft’s large size. At a minimum, Valesquez said, the C-5 needs at least 5000 feet of runway for takeoff and landing and a runway that can sustain the C-5’s max landing weight of 769,000 lbs.

Valesquez said that getting an aircraft like the C-5 ready for its missions is a group effort.

“It takes a lot of individuals to get this off the ground; it relies on teamwork,” he said, noting that “the majority of the team are traditional guardsmen who work in many different jobs and come from different backgrounds”

Protecting all the Air National Guard aircraft and personnel were members of the 108th Air Refueling Wing’s Contingency Response Group from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. Led by Maj. Richard Friendlich, the CRG is a composite of the specialties necessary to run an airfield and are utilized on a very short term basis. According to Friendlich the main goal of the CRG is to provide the ground work for follow-on forces and initiate liaisons as well as getting things working.

“The CRG is a very capable force as long as you know what you want.” Friendlich said.

During the air show the CRG won’t be displaying any equipment or interacting with visitors in a traditional way. Instead, their security forces personnel will protect the aircraft and ensure that no one comes too close to any part that they shouldn’t. To do this, CRG members worked with the South African National Defense Forces, which Friendlich described as “a great experience.”

“We’ve had a chance to exchange information and have sat down and talked to their sergeants,” Friendlich said. “Because they stay in until they are 55 they have a lot of experience and technical skill and are a very experienced force.”

Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, 17th Air Force Commander who led U.S. Department of Defense representation at the event, praised the participation by the U.S. Air Force and Army guardsmen.

“It’s been a great opportunity for us to showcase our equipment and the Airmen and soldiers who make it all come together,” Woodward said. “...Bringing in their own assets from the C-5 to the helicopters to be able to do this, it’s just been an incredible contribution to this effort and I can tell you, 17th Air Force couldn’t have been as successful in their participation here without that incredible guard relationship and professionalism in putting the show together as they did.”

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URL: http://dmna.state.ny.us/news/?id=1285780025
Page Last Modified: Wed, Sep 29, 2010