CAMP CLARK, Mo. --
Citizen-Airmen of the Missouri Air National Guard's 239th Combat Communications Squadron supported a two-week Missouri Air National Guard training exercise at Camp Clark, near Nevada, beginning June 1.
The 239th Airmen were on hand to support approximately 60 members of the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing, who were training at Camp Clark so that they could be ready to respond in the event of a state emergency, said Lt. Col. Dean Benson, 239th commander.
"The National Guard is the only component of America's armed forces with a dual state and federal mission," Benson said. "While we constantly train for our federal mission, it is equally important that we are ready to serve stateside, too. This training is making our Airmen better able to serve their friends and neighbors."
As an Air National Guard unit, the 239th can be activated by the governor to respond to state emergencies such as natural disasters. During such events, the 239th uses its communication capabilities to support other National Guard units, as well as local civil authorities such as law enforcement and first responders.
In addition to supporting the 131st at Camp Clark, approximately 55 Citizen-Airmen from the 239th provided communications for the 131st's training at Whiteman Air Force Base during early June. They supported over 50 members of the wing staff, who operated out of tents in a simulated deployed environment.
Airman 1st Class Nathan Jurado, a client systems technician on his first training exercise with the 239th, said that good communications are critical to the Guard performing its emergency response mission.
"Police and first responders don't know what to do when they get to an emergency without good communications," said Jurado, a full-time college student from St. Louis. "Communications is an important part of any operation, and that's why we're here setting up."
Staff Sgt. Rick Jones, a radio frequency transmissions craftsman with the 239th, said that the squadron has the capability to access radio, commercial internet, as well as military communications. Jones, who is from Potosi, works in his civilian life as a cellular tower ground technician.
"This communications package was developed for state emergency duty," said Jones. "This is what's called an emergency communications package - we can take this to a state emergency site and can set up with what's needed."
Jones said that the mission of the 239th plays into the Air National Guard's state emergency mission in several ways.
"It's the time that we live in - information travels so fast, and information is needed that much quicker," said Jones.
Benson said that the training allows the Airmen from the 239th to train in the field on the critical mission of coordination and support of another Air National Guard unit.
"The Airmen of the 239th continue to do the amazing job of providing communications support in field environments so that they can perform their state and federal missions," said Benson. "With this training, they are more prepared for a state emergency so that we can respond even better when disaster strikes."
The 239th is based at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, and is a tenant unit of the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing, located at Whiteman Air Force Base.
More information on the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing can be found at http://www.131bw.ang.af.mil/. For more information on the Missouri National Guard, visit http://moguard.com/