131st Annual Training 2014 sets bar high with many firsts, strong participation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brittany Cannon
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Over 800 airmen with the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing and the 239th Combat Communications Squadron from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, converged for Annual Training here and at Camp Clark in Nevada, Missouri.

After a six-month preparation, a successful Annual Training week took place June 16-22. Annual Training allows for the usual computer-based training and classroom ancillary training, along with hands-on functional training. With the 131st's total force integration with the 509th Bomb Wing, it also let Guardsmen work alongside their active-duty counterparts.

Many firsts for the wing occurred during this year's Annual Training. The 239th, as well as the 131st Maintenance Group, held separate mock deployments. More than 40 training classes were scheduled across the week, including a half-day unit safety stand down. Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Paul Carney held multiple enlisted all-calls throughout the entire week to get the pulse of the wing. Also new this year, sports activities were not only held after hours, but also during the duty day, to provide for fitness, teambuilding, morale and to enhance participation.

The 131st Maintenance Group and a handful of wing members teamed with the Missouri Army National Guard at Camp Clark to participate in realistic scenarios to help train for State Emergency Duty. Guardsmen at the mock deployment worked on medical response training, truck driving exercises and other skills that are needed to respond to a state emergency.

While the Whiteman-based Maintenance Group took its training off base, the 239th, a wing tenant unit from Jefferson Barracks, "deployed" to Whiteman to train and showcase their abilities by establishing a full communications support set-up in a bare-base setting. 131st Airmen had a chance to participate in their exercise, dubbed Operation Tangled Web.

"We wanted to show our capabilities not only to the 131st Bomb Wing but also to the 509th. We have so many ways to help, between the different packages we have for large communication needs or state emergency immediate needs. It's all about the customer," said Chief Master Sgt. Cynthia Scott, superintendent of operations with the 239th.

Throughout the week, Chief Carney held eight enlisted-only all call meetings. He said he received a great response to this first-ever event, and took the feedback he heard to heart.

"I wanted to have smaller groups, which is why I split the enlisted structure into four sections, for ample participation," said Chief Carney. "I truly enjoyed talking to the Airmen, hearing and taking notes on their concerns and getting to understand where we need to focus our attention in the future."

Airmen also had a chance to compete in AT Olympics, which featured different sporting events, with points awarded to each unit based on participation and competition results. Sporting events included volleyball, washers, dodge ball, basketball, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, kickball and a 5k run. At the conclusion of AT week, the winning units were announced and presented with plaques acknowledging their competitive streaks.

"I had a lot of input about what activities our Airmen wanted to participate in this year and really worked on getting those activities set up, not only after-hours but during the duty day as well, which allowed for a different group of Airmen to participate," said Tech Sgt. Roney Campbell, 131st Logistics Readiness Squadron, who was responsible for planning the Olympics.

AT week came to a close on Sunday with a fun-packed, family-oriented Wingman Picnic. The event featured bounce houses, a water slide, a bungee run event and a pie-in-the-face auction, according to Capt. Colleen Weed, 131st Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer and project officer for this year's AT week.

"We wanted to try and make the family day something that everyone could enjoy with their families," she said.

During the picnic, Col. Michael Francis, 131st Bomb Wing commander, added the 131st's latest Air Force Outstanding Unit Award streamer - awarded in May - to the wing guidon, and thanked the wing's members for a successful week and a strong start to the current calendar year. He also expressed the wing's appreciation to supporters like the Whiteman Base Community Council and the USO, whose support helps underwrite events like the picnic.

Col. Francis also recognized Weed, along with a select group of project planners, for their sustained hard work planning and executing the event. Others recognized were: 1st Lt. Amy Cottrell, 131st Medical Group; Sergeant Campbell; and Senior Amn. Cortney Leavitt, 131st Mission Support Group.

"There were many moving pieces that made Annual Training 2014 a fantastic event," Col. Francis told the assembled wing. "Between the training that took place both on Whiteman Air Force Base and at Camp Clark, along with exercises and our wing's ongoing support to real-world missions, Annual Training week was a huge success."