Support sustains Sentry Savannah

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Reel
  • Senior Airman Christopher Reel
The morning sun began to peak through the grey sky, shedding light over Savannah, Ga. For a few moments, at the 165th Airlift Wing, Savannah Air National Guard base, the grey sky looked as if it blended into the tarmac. However, the silhouettes of fighter aircraft broke up the horizon.

Amongst those aircraft were 14 of Tyndall's F-22 Raptors with their crew chiefs and weapons and ammo specialists.

They prepped the jets for the day's exercises and sorties for the 10th day of Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center's Sentry Savannah 2014. Sentry Savannah is a massive deployment exercise involving F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, F/A-18 Hornets, F-15 Strike Eagles and T-38 Talons from Vermont, Florida, Georgia, Washington D.C. and various other locations.

Tyndall's maintenance units provided a 160-memebr team to support the two-week mission. Additionally, two fueling specialists were provided by Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, Ga.

"It takes a lot of planning and coordinating to execute an exercise deployment like this," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Sextro, 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant superintendent and maintenance project officer. "Planning for this event began the week after Thanksgiving."

Planning for the exercise ran hand-in-hand with what it would look like if Tyndall was mass-deploying to a location overseas. The only difference was instead of shipping all of the maintenance supplies and equipment by aircraft, it was shipped by semi-trucks.
It took 10 semi-trucks to ship the 14,000 short-tons of equipment and one spare aircraft engine.

"Things would have gone a little more smoothly in the beginning, if we weren't faced with the challenges of the ice storm that moved in the day we were supposed to leave," said Sextro. "We were supposed to leave Thursday, but had to leave Friday due to the storm. We were able to unload one semi [truck] Friday night and then on Saturday, unloaded the other nine semis [trucks], readied 14 F-22s for flight and bedded down 119 people."

Despite the bad weather, the maintainers worked hard to get back on schedule and continue the mission.

"The first week here, our guys worked hard to have quick turn-arounds on their aircraft," Sextro said. "By the end of the day Friday, all of the aircraft were serviced and ready to go and our guys were able to enjoy the day off Saturday. That almost never happens. It just shows how hard these guys are working here."

The success would not be possible if it was not for total cooperation of all the units participating here, explained Master Sgt. Jeffery Rivera, 43rd AMU assistant superintendant and maintenance project officer.

"We all are sharing resources and facilities with other units exercising here with us," said Rivera. "The success of the mission is a reflection that everyone is working well together."

The strength of team-work is a key factor in any mission, especially ones away from home base.

"When accomplishing missions away from home station, we leave behind all the distracters of a typical duty day: appointments, training programs and home life, for example," said Sextro. "Everybody helps everybody here, doesn't matter your job. We all work together."

The joint mission at Sentry Savannah is not only providing experience for the maintainers, weapons and ammo specialists, fuelers and security forces members, but it is strengthening camaraderie within the units and raising morale.

"The flying schedule is more aggressive than back at Tyndall," said Senior Airman William Trisch, 43rd AMU crewchief. "It's been great being able to put our planes up in the air at a much faster pace. It's been awesome to see us all do our jobs like this when we are in a completely different location."