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Fairchild AFB Airmen support Oddysey Dawn at different operating locations

by Tech. Sgt Jennifer Buzanowski
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/4/2011 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings have recently stood alert for missions supporting Japan, sent KC-135s forward to support Operation Odyssey Dawn, and continue to be the lead wing supporting the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

"And we're doing this from three different locations," said Col. Paul Guemmer, the 92nd ARW commander.

Since January, runway repairs here have forced Airmen to operate from the Spokane International Airport and a former Air Force base in the Moses Lake community.

"The operations tempo to support our normal flying mission and our rotations to Kyrgyzstan (have) proved challenging operating from three different runways," Guemmer said. "We stand ready to support a mission to aid Japan if called upon. To accomplish each and every tasking given to us is a testament to the hard work, dedication and sheer determination of our people. I couldn't be more proud."

Guardsmen have also welcomed these challenges.

"Air National Guard Airmen of the 141st (Air Refueling Wing) work and train alongside 92nd (Air Refueling Wing) Airmen every day," said Col. Richard Kelly, the 141st ARW commander. "When short notice military involvement is required in operations such as Odyssey Dawn and Tomodachi, Airmen of the 141st (Air Refueling Wing) are ready and excited about the opportunity to participate in these important missions,"

Seven KC-135s and about 100 Airmen deployed from here in support of U.S. and coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone of Libya. This doesn't come without challenges, said Colonel Guemmer.

"The biggest threat to our Airmen is the airspace itself. With any military operation that shares airspace with multiple services and countries, we need to take extra care that we're flying safely, Guemmer said. "A lot of work goes into the planning process to designate where our tankers fly and when all the receiver aircraft are scheduled to refuel."

Guemmer stresses the impact refueling operations have.

"It's essential to extend the capability of our fighter, bomber and reconnaissance aircraft," he said. "No other military, no other country can do what we can do with our tankers. We are unmatched.

"Although the operation tempo for Fairchild (Air Force Base) is high, the dedication to the mission and performance have not wavered," Guemmer said. "In fact, we had a maintainer (who was recently) married, and just hours later, was on one of the tankers that left to support Odyssey Dawn."

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