Wyatt visits Mississippi Air Guard units

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • National Guard Bureau
JACKSON, Miss. - The Air National Guard's top leader visited with Airmen at the 172nd Airlift Wing here and the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian this weekend in formal briefings and base tours to see firsthand the missions they are performing.

Lt. Gen Harry Wyatt III flew from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan. 8 to San Antonio, Texas, during an aeromedical evacuation mission that transported wounded servicemembers from Iraq. He was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Loren Reno, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support.

The C-17 Globemaster III aircraft was operated by the Mississippi Airmen from the 172nd, who fly regular aerovac missions from Balad Air Base, Iraq, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and stateside.

After they transported more than 50 patients to Andrews, the aircraft and crew transported Wyatt with a medical team and two burn victims to Brooke Army Medical Center. One patient was in critical condition.

"It was extremely important to me to be on that mission last night," Wyatt told 172nd Wing's leaders.

Wyatt was briefed the following morning at Jackson International Airport on the wing's operations.

He then presented the unit its 13th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. "I look forward to your 14th [award]," he said, adding that outstanding achievement is "in your DNA."

The wing, the first Guard unit to operate the C-17, has flown more than 39,000 patients to lifesaving medical treatment since October 2005. Their patients range from critical to stable condition.

The general walked around the base this morning and visited with the 172nd's Airmen during their unit training weekend. He awarded coins to outstanding performers and thanked many for their service.

"We enjoy him being here and seeing the actual mission being performed," said Maj. Gen. Erik Hearon, commander of the Mississippi Air Guard, who accompanied Wyatt to both units. "That's a lot better than trying to read a summary of it, and he mentioned that in his comments this morning."

A short flight later, Wyatt arrived at Key Field Air Guard Base, home of the 186th.

The general was briefed on the unit's many missions, including KC-135 aerial refueling, air traffic control, RC-26B counter-drug intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) and MC-12 ISR aircraft mission qualification training, among others.

During a town hall-style meeting, Wyatt called the wing's MC-12 Project Liberty mission "vitally important to the U.S. Air Force."

"It is one that this country needs," he said.

"Project Liberty is the Air Force's new ISR platform," said Lt. Col. Rick Berryhill, a program spokesperson. "It provides tactical ISR to the war fighter forward."

Berryhill said the Air Guard provides mission qualification training for the program at Key Field. It has trained and deployed more than 125 active duty Air Force crew members since training began last March.

The wing is scheduled to conduct MC-12 mission training for more than 600 active duty Airmen this fiscal year.

Wyatt also answered questions about the wing's transition from 18 years of aerial refueling and the possibility of gaining new missions, including C-27 Spartan operations, maintenance and training.

Basing for those missions, said Wyatt, has yet to be decided or announced by the Air Force's Strategic Basic Executive Steering Group.