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131st Bomb Wing Airmen prepare for state emergency convoy operations

Citizen-Airmen from the 131st Bomb Wing familiarize themselves with a Humvee in preparation for convoy operations training at Camp Clark, near Nevada, Missouri, June 3, 2015.  The Airmen were training as part of a state emergency duty exercise.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Justin Clark)

Citizen-Airmen from the 131st Bomb Wing familiarize themselves with a Humvee in preparation for convoy operations training at Camp Clark, near Nevada, Missouri, June 3, 2015. The Airmen were training as part of a state emergency duty exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Justin Clark)

CAMP CLARK, Mo. -- Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing practiced convoy operations, a critical component of overseas and stateside emergency missions, during their annual training here June 3.

Master Sgt. James Bradley, an avionics electronics technician with the 131st Maintenance Squadron, served as the lead instructor, drawing on experiences he'd gained serving on a joint deployment with the Missouri Army National Guard.

"It was fantastic to train and work with the Army," Bradley said.  "For a year, I got boots on the ground outside the wire.  It was the pinnacle of my career."

Bradley served as a security forces squad leader with the Missouri AgriBusiness Development Team in 2011.  Before deploying, Bradley spent three months going through mobility training alongside the Army, and then served with them for a year in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province.  There, Bradley ran more than 170 missions, transporting agriculture and security teams throughout the region.

That experience prepared him to pass firsthand knowledge to his fellow Airmen.

Bradley said convoy operations are critical in both combat and state emergency duty operations.  In the best-case scenario, the Airmen that Bradley trained now know enough that they could jump in and help if they are ever in a situation where they are needed, he said.

After completing the classroom portion of training, which focused on maintaining safe vehicle distances and how to maneuver a Humvee, Airmen got the opportunity to operate the convoy simulator, or Virtual Clearance Training Suite. 

Tech. Sgt. Laura Martinez, a low observables technician with the 131st Maintenance Squadron, viewed the training from a different perspective than most of her coworkers.  Martinez began her military career in motor transportation in the Marine Corps.

"My favorite part is seeing the progression over time," Martinez said.  "Back in the day, a lot of things went wrong, and that has allowed us to learn from our mistakes."