134TH Air Refueling Wing fuels the fight in the Pacific

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ben Mellon
  • 134 ARW Public Affairs
More than 60 Airmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam July 28.

During this trip, the 134th ARW provided KC135-R Stratotanker refueling support for the Pacific Air Forces for training missions and operational sorties.
"The mission here is to stand up a tanker task force as a deterrent and show of force in the Pacific region," said Col. Randall E. Gratz, Vice Commander of the 134th ARW. "There is a tanker presence here on Guam all the time and we are glad to be a part of it."
Many different types of missions are being accomplished here. There are training missions for the bombers and tankers to maintain currency, as well as training for the pilots and boom operators. There are also operational real-world missions going on at the same time.
"We are averaging three missions a day and working six days a week, so I'd say we will complete about 115 to 120 different sorties whether training or operational while in Guam," said Master Sgt. James Taylor, 134th ARW Maintenance Squadron 1st Sergeant.
While operations are on-going, the less noticed piece of the puzzle is the maintenance crews who are working around the clock to keep the birds in the sky.
"Those guys are out in the heat, humidity, and rain turning those airplanes getting them ready to fly," said Gratz. "There's no way we could send this many airplanes conducting flying operations without maintenance support. We have the best maintenance support in the world in Knoxville, and I'm proud of those guys and gals. I love them to death."
Operations and Maintenance are not the only vital career fields present that make the mission possible.
"Besides Ops and Maintenance, we also have Judge Advocate, Logistics, Medical, Public Affairs and Communications here with us, and it takes everyone to complete the mission," said Taylor. "Although it takes only pilots and maintainers to physically get the planes off the ground, all career fields are crucial for our personnel to complete the mission effectively."
The 134th ARW works as a total force with other units both active and reserve at Andersen Air Force Base which has been vital to the success of mission. 
"The active duty side of it, through the 36th Ops Group here at Andersen, has been very supportive and helpful," said Gratz. "They have permanent party staff here to support the transient aircraft and the bombers as well."
A lot of times, Airmen do their job daily never knowing what impact they may have had, but each and every Airman on base plays a role in making sure that the mission is performed successfully.
"It's really neat knowing I'm a part of something much bigger than I am that could have worldwide effects without me ever knowing it," said Airman 1st Class David L. Perry, 134th ARW Aircraft Structural Maintenance Flight. "It's awesome to think that the aircraft I'm working on could be going to refuel a bomber that is headed to drop a payload somewhere, and that I directly affected that mission. It helps me to realize the importance of not just my role but everyone's role here."