Aviano Air Base, Italy --
Nearly 50 members of the Maryland Air National Guard participated in their annual training at Aviano Air Base, Italy. It was an opportunity for guard members to train side by side with their active duty counterparts at the 31st Fighter Wing and to demonstrate their value as part of the total force.
"The most rewarding part is that the active duty does really appreciate what we bring to the table," said Senior Master Sgt. Miguel Laboy, 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge for the annual training mission.
175th Wing members were assigned to 14 different work centers throughout the 31st Fighter Wing showcasing their unique talents and civilian experiences ensuring mission success.
"What the guard brings to the table is that fresh set of eyes," said Senior Master Sgt. James Wickersham, superintendent of logistics and plans, 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron. "Their perspective, their energy really lends assistance to everything we do."
Majority of the training opportunities are not available at Warfield Air National Guard base, like mechanics and drivers working on various vehicles or logisticians learning on specific programs.
"I am learning different facets of my job that I am not able to participate in at our home base," said Staff Sgt. Vonetta McIntire, a supply technician, 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "It helps me understand what each section is supposed to do and what their responsibilities are and how I play my part to make sure things come together."
The majority of the group was from the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron but there were also representatives from the wing's judge advocate, public affairs, finance and chaplain's offices. 175th Wing chaplain Lt. Col. Christopher Otten and chaplain's assistant Master Sgt. David Yarborough were able to fulfill the 31st Fighter Wing chaplain's office contingency operations by holding weekday and Sunday services while they were away.
The members of the Maryland Air National Guard also brought many years of experience with them to Italy but they were able to acquire new skills.
Master Sgt. Brandon Mooney, a logistics planner and assistant non-commissioned officer in charge for the annual training mission said, "I've learned we are limited in resources compared to the active duty but we still get the job done, just in a different fashion."
"I have noticed that guardsmen, because they are a unit that works together all the time, it seems they work more seamlessly," said Master Sgt. Steven Mounts, first sergeant of 31st Force Support Squadron.
In addition to training, Aircraft Fuels Operations supported the dispatching and fueling of 96 sorties and Small Air Terminal provided support for 339 new military and family members into Aviano.
After six months of planning, airmen from the 175th Wing received over 2,000 hours of combined training.