Ramstein Air Base --
The Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Logistics Readiness Squadron conducted a two-week annual tour June 1-15, 2019 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany to train and provide support alongside their active-duty counterparts.
With the goal of completing training not easily accomplished state-side, over 70 guardsmen integrated with Ramstein’s 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron. From overhauling hydraulic lines in specialized flightline vehicles to cataloging, packaging and shipping hundreds of military weapons, few in the unit avoided getting their hands dirty.
“With that number and range of vehicles, we’re able to get our folks over here, get their training accomplished, get them signed off on their core tasks and really accomplish some worthwhile endeavors while helping the folks here,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Fontanetta, the 118th LRS commander. “The group here is incredibly unique with over 1,000 personnel just in their logistics readiness group. So it afforded us the opportunity to see a much broader span of operation than we would normally see.”
With a huge fleet of vehicles, most of which are not available at the 118th LRS’s home station of Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Ramstein offered a myriad of opportunities for those needing upgrade training.
“We have about 1,600 vehicles in our fleet, so we probably have equipment that the majority of the guys haven’t seen before,” said Senior Master Sgt. Samuel Pastor, the 86th VRS vehicle management superintendent. “From refuelers, fire trucks, snow removing, ice removal vehicles to flight line vehicles. It’s diverse.”
The 118th LRS’s vehicle maintenance Airmen hit the ground running and within the first few hours of being on duty, and were already helping diagnose and repair a variety of vehicle issues.
“It’s really rewarding inside of this facility to see that the active-duty guys really appreciate our help, and that we’re able to get products out the door for them,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathon Crump, 118th LRS mechanic and vehicle maintenance trainer. “We worked on several vehicles and we were able to actually further troubleshoot, order parts or get them out the door and back on the road, which was great for us. That’s very rewarding.”
The active-duty Airmen were also happy to work with and unite with the guardsmen.
“They [118th LRS] integrated with our Airmen flawlessly and as an added benefit, helped us complete many more jobs while here,” said Pastor. “They’re welcome to come back any time!”
On the warehouse front, the scale of operations in comparison to Berry Field’s was staggering. With millions of items in inventory covering five huge warehouses, opportunities for unique training at Ramstein were plentiful.
To put the scale into perspective, 17 personnel manage one area of the warehouse associated with Individual Protective Equipment versus one with the 118th LRS, said Master Sgt. Erin Lowell, 118th LRS supply management technician. “When we get hit with a tasker in Nashville it might be once a year,” said Lowell. “Here, [Ramstein] they have 100 to 150 a month.”
Training was not the only benefit of the trip to Germany, as working closely with members in their unit helped build teamwork and morale.
“It was absolutely a great experience to be able to come to a different country and have camaraderie with people that you work with during [annual training] days.” said Airman 1st Class Randall Nichols, a 118th LRS materials management Airman. Nichols added that his mission readiness has increased because of working with the active duty, which will pay off should he get deployed.
The 118th LRS flew to Ramstein for a very specific reason: training. But they walked away with more than new technical skills.
“Our hope was to get people training and broaden their perspective, so that our folks understand that being a member of the Tennessee Air National Guard means they’re part of a bigger picture,” said Fontanetta. “I think it’s a trip that our folks won’t soon forget.”