DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – --
The 317th Airlift Wing celebrated its date of wing re-designation at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, July 6.
The 317th AW has a long lineage of performing tactical airlift duties, with a 70-year service in the U.S. Air Force. The 317th AW was established as the 317th Troop Carrier Wing on Aug. 10, 1948, and returned to its wing designation on July 6, 2017.
Throughout the year, the 317th AW has been actively supporting U.S. and partner nations in every theater of military operations, as well as through humanitarian efforts during natural disasters. As one of two active-duty C-130J Super Hercules wings in Air Mobility Command, it is their job to provide rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America’s armed forces.
“The Airmen fuel all of the mission success in the wing with hard work, innovation, and pride,” said Col. Rhett Boldenow, 317th AW Commander. “They demonstrate every day why the 317th AW is the leading edge of tactical airlift."
The list of accomplishments are widely impactful as the C-130J is a hard-working, efficient aircraft designed specifically for tactical airlift and is used in multiple branches and units throughout the Department of Defense.
A Year In Review
From July 2017 to July 2018, the 317th AW has participated in wide-scale exercises and training such as Artic Ace 2017, Exercise Mobility Guardian 2017 and multiple Joint Forcible Entry Exercises, all of which familiarize the 317th AW members in joint operations.
During Artic Ace 2017, the 317th AW provided four 40th Airlift Squadron crews, two C-130Js and 10 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers as part of an off-station trainer to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The purpose of this off-station trainer was to gain unfamiliar terrain exposure for Dyess crews. Training included hot defuel and refuel training, dirt landing zone operations and airdrop training supporting U.S. Army soldiers.
In July 2017, AMC announced the command winner for the Air Force Association’s 2016 Lieutenant General William H. Tunner Award for the most Outstanding Airlift Aircrew, which went to the crew of TORQE 60; Maj. Marc Austin, Maj. Nathan Hering, Senior Airman James Myrick Jr. and Senior Airman James Camera. These Airmen were deployed to Afghanistan in early 2016 when tasked to support a hot defueling operation for a special operations mission.
The nighttime mission involved flying a large R-11 Refueler from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, to an austere landing zone in eastern Afghanistan. Making the difficult landing zone assault landing while using night vision goggles, the crew of TORQE 60 offloaded the fuel truck that was needed to support U.S. Army helicopters engaged in suppressing enemy troops. The C-130 then returned to Bagram to upload fuel, then quickly returned to the landing zone to perform an engine-running offload of this fuel into the R-11 Refueler.
During this hot defueling, the crew received notice of an inbound critically wounded soldier. After loading the soldier, they departed the landing zone and departed at maximum continuous speed back to Bagram. While en route, the patient’s condition deteriorated due to excessive blood loss from a gunshot wound to the chest. To stop the bleeding, the on-board surgeons opened up his chest cavity to identify the source of the bleeding and were successful in stopping the loss of blood.
After offloading their patient at Bagram, the TORQE 60 crew received notice of two more critically wounded patients back at the same landing zone that needed immediate transport to Bagram. Making their third night vision goggle assault landing of the night, the crew successfully evacuated the two wounded back to Bagram for medical care. All three patients survived due to the actions of the crew and the excellent medical support they received. The TORQE 60 crew’s outstanding performance and discipline on this high-stress mission represented an example of airmanship contributing to successful coalition operations in Afghanistan.
“The appetite for tactical airlift never stops and the Airmen of the Mighty 3-1-7 rise to meet the challenge every single day; at home, deployed, and locations all over the globe,” said Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Swanger, 317th AW Command Chief. “These warriors are incredible and I am proud of everything they have accomplished over the last year. I'm honored to be a part of such an amazing team.”
Along with exercises and missions, the wing had the opportunity to support humanitarian missions in various states during the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria which disbursed more than 50 inches of rain over Southeast Texas and Western Louisiana in the last week of August. Hurricane Irma followed by Hurricane Maria, which devastated parts of the Caribbean in September.
CORONET OAK missions with the call sign of “Shark,” provided hurricane relief throughout the months of September and October to the neighboring Caribbean. Forty Shark missions were completed with 136 flying sorties, 533 passengers transported and 315 tons of critically needed supplies delivered.
A typical relief mission took a 39th Airlift Squadron crew to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, to pick up U.S. Marines from Joint Task Force Bravo and transported them to Saint Martin to help the devastated island. The crew also continued to bring supplies to Saint Martin including water production and water purification supplies.
“The 317th AW deployed almost 350 Airmen to 9 different countries and flew 3000 combat sorties in the first year,” said Col. Boldenow. “While conducting those worldwide deployments, the Airmen also responded to 3 different hurricane operations and delivered over 355,000 pounds of aid that supported people from 10 countries in addition to the aeromedical evacuation of 123 patients in need of higher level medical care.”
Although aircrews are vital for all missions and training, the job would not be possible if not for maintenance and support personnel, which make up the majority of the 317th AW.
“I believe as a mechanic on a cargo aircraft, everyone in my career field plays a very important role in the 317th,” said Airman 1st Class Elias Echevarria, 317th AMXS C-130J crew chief. “We support the wing by fixing discrepancies within each of our aircraft in a timely manner while utilizing technical data in every job we do. This in itself allows missions to be carried out on time and allows our aircraft to do the job they were built for. To bring important cargo to any place around the globe at any matter of time safe and effectively.”
During December 4th through 6th, three 317th Maintenance Group members competed in the Defense Maintenance Competition held in conjunction with the 2017 Defense Maintenance and Logistics Exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tech. Sgt. Jereamy Day led the Dyess team which also included Staff Sgt. Thomas Rue and Airman 1st Class Sean Zajac.
This was the first time that the 317th AW entered a team in this competition. Twelve teams competed representing Salt Lake Community College, Utah State University, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force.
The competition provided an opportunity for current and future maintenance professionals to showcase their abilities in six different timed events. The three person team selected one member to compete in each event with each event limited to a 15-minute timed period.
The six events consisted of troubleshooting a fuel quantity indicating system, a pitot static system, safety cable, safety wiring, hydraulic test stand and oil test analysis. The 317th MXG team was experienced in all events except for the oil test analysis event. Despite being new to this competition and having no experience with one of the six events the team finished third out of the twelve teams entered with Air Force teams taking the top three spots.
“The last year has been a phenomenal success for the 317th AW,” said Col. Boldenow. “From deployments in support of multiple combatant commands to joint training exercise, the Airmen have done an amazing job of providing airlift at a moment's notice anywhere in the world. It is an honor to have the 317th AW birthday just a few days after Independence Day celebrations around the nation. The men and women of the 317th AW protect and defend the freedoms and ideals that brought this nation into existence and I am proud to serve with them."