WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. --
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited Will Rogers Air National Guard Base (WRANGB) in Oklahoma City on June 8, 2020.
The brief tour highlighted keystone features of the base and its mission with the MC-12W, which are bolstered by the daily operations of the 137th Special Operations Wing (137th SOW) — one of only two special operations wings in the Air National Guard.
The first stop during the visit included the 306th Intelligence Squadron (306th IS), 189th Intelligence Squadron (189th IS) and 285th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron (285th SOIS). The 306th IS is a training flight for incoming tactical systems operators (TSOs) for manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. The 189th IS is the only TSO unit in the Air National Guard, and the 285th SOIS Wing specializes in processing, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence for the ISR mission of the MC-12W, of which Goldfein was once a part.
“I flew the MC-12 for two years as the Air Component Commander and deployed over Afghanistan,” said Goldfein. “So, got to know the weapon system pretty well and got to know the community. It was actually good to reconnect and see what they’re doing.”
Following this stop, the group of officials visited the recently completed Minuteman Memorial. Here, Col. Daniel R. Fowler, commander of the 137th SOW, described how the six standing columns represent six fallen Airmen killed during normal training duties throughout the history of the base, as well as how the Minuteman statue honors current and future Airmen of WRANGB.
There was also a short ceremony for Airmen to receive a coin from the Air Force Chief of Staff. They were nominated to receive one based on outstanding conduct and performance in their Guard careers, such as using technological innovations to improve squadron and base-wide operations, going above and beyond during the state response to COVID-19, or for performing well in outstanding circumstances while deployed overseas.
“It was the most surprising experience of my time in the Air Force,” said Airman 1st Class Binh Pham, a radar, airfield and weather systems specialist for the 205th Engineering and Installation Squadron, about meeting Goldfein.
Pham was nominated to receive a coin for his exceptional contributions as a Guardsman serving at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma during the state’s response to COVID-19.
“I’ve only been in for two years,” he said. “I never expected to meet him, and to receive a coin – to speak to him was a really great experience.”
From commanders to junior enlisted, Goldfein found ways to connect with each member and spoke to them about how he saw their contributions impacting our missions downrange and supporting our local communities.
The final stop was on the WRANGB flightline for a brief on the C-130 Hercules fuselage trainer and to revisit the MC-12. Here, an airframe of historical significance to the base (the C-130) was featured alongside the current airframe. While other squadrons do use the fuselage trainer, it is most utilized by the 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (137th AES), which is a tenant unit of the base, to train for real-world scenarios like evacuating casualties from a battlefield or helping transport civilians impacted by a natural disaster.
The 137th AES is the only aeromedical evacuation Guard unit with a fuselage trainer — which is fully certified by the Air Mobility Command and can simulate any scenario that would happen on the aircraft in flight – including fire and smoke through fake flames and a smoke machine, which was demonstrated during the squadron’s presentation.
Goldfein was also briefed on the ways members of the 137th SOW run intelligence operations that occur on the MC-12 in concert with operations on the ground. He was also shown how Guardsmen are finding unique ways to catapult WRANGB into the future by developing innovative training for Airmen and how implementation of that training will help WRANGB evolve as a key player in full-spectrum readiness.
“This is a unit that is in high demand,” Goldfein said in the podcast. “Southern Command especially is really tapping into their expertise for some of the missions that they’re doing … in our southern hemisphere. But, I love the fact that they have taken it really to a new level since I left the weapons system back in 2013 … It’s really matured and come a long way, so it was a great visit. I’m very impressed with that unit.”