Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

TOP STORY > >Adding 19th Air Wing enhances combat readiness

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base today becomes the most important C-130 component in the U.S. military as the 19th Airlift Wing, part of Air Mobility Command, is to be reactivated as the base’s host wing and takes on operational control from the 314th Airlift Wing and Air Education and Training Command.

The 314th Airlift Wing will continue to train C-130 air crews as a tenant wing at the Jacksonville air base.

Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz assumes command of the 19th AW during the change of command ceremonies this morning, relinquishing control of the 314th AW to Col. Charles Hyde, a command pilot with more than 3,700 hours in both the C-130E and C-130H, as well as the T-37.

Hyde comes to Little Rock from Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, where he was the vice commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, the primary tactical airlift hub for resupply missions supporting coalition operations in Iraq and providing combat support to land-component forces throughout Kuwait and Iraq.

According to senior leaders in the Air Force, an AMC airlift wing at LRAFB was the best way that the Air Force would meet today’s mission requirements.

As a result, a series of realignments took place on base and numerous aircraft and units were also reassigned, which shifted the wing’s mission focus from student training to mobility employment.

This shift means a deployment increase for the men and women of The Rock as they fulfill the mission of AMC — to deliver maximum war-fighting and humanitarian effects for America through rapid and precise global air mobility.

“(My wife) Jodie and I are excited to be a part of Team Little Rock — the Home of Combat Airlift,” said Hyde, the former squadron commander at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
“My grandfather worked on the C-130 assembly line many years ago, and I’m thrilled to be a part of an organization dedicated to training the world’s best combat airlifters in the mighty Herk,” the colonel said.

“Our mission is important; we are a nation at war, and the 314th Airlift Wing provides the foundation of tactical skills and combat airlift ethos essential for success in the war against terrorism and success in future combat or humanitarian missions,” Hyde said.

While serving as Little Rock’s host wing, the 314th AW supported both AMC’s 463rd Airlift Group and the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing. As AMC activates the 19th AW, it will inherit the mission and tradition of excellence of the 314th Airlift Wing, including base operating support responsibilities such as maintenance, medical services, and mission support.

Col. James Johnson is the 19th Airlift Wing vice commander while Col. Mark Vlahos remains 314th Airlift Wing vice commander.

Johnson comes to Little Rock from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, where he was a liaison for U.S. Transportation Command, the single entity charged with directing and supervising execution of the strategic distribution system for the Department of Defense in peace and war.

A former airlift navigator in the C-141, he was the liaison to Central Command, the U.S. military authority responsible for U.S. security interests in 25 nations stretching from the Horn of Africa through the Arabian Gulf region, into Central Asia, overseeing both Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, with over 190,000 U.S. troops across the region.

He was also the liaison to Special Operations Command, the command of more than 45,000 Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force Special Operations forces given the mandate to lead, plan, synchronize, and as directed, execute global operations for the Department of Defense against terrorist networks. As a liaison he facilitated and shaped the timely understanding of worldwide transportation and distribution requirements, capabilities, and processes.

Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley is the 19th Airlift Wing command chief and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Turcotte Jr. is the new command chief for the 314th Airlift Wing.

The 19th Airlift Wing dates back to 1927 when the U.S. Army Air Corps created the unit as the 19th Observation Group.

Previously known as the 19th Air Refueling Group, stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, the group was inactivated in May 2008 as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.