Bayou Militia deploys 700 Airmen to Mississippi for annual training
By Air Force 2nd Lt Larissa Lambert
159th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
More than 700 Airmen from the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing completed annual training at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., June 6. This is the first time the wing has deployed as a whole since 2009.
The Bayou Militia traveled to Mississippi to take part in “Operation Coronet Blue” at the CRTC. The training site provides a simulated deployed environment that allows airmen to experience the operational tempo, intense workload and wartime conditions they may encounter in an actual combat zone.
Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of LANG, and Brig. Gen. Charles Chappuis, assistant adjutant general – Air, visited the airmen at the CRTC. Curtis expressed his appreciation for their service and dedication to wartime preparations.
Aircraft and pilot training are the primary focus of the flying mission, but it takes a combined effort to support them. Virtually all components that comprise the fighter wing were present, including personnel, civil engineering, medical, services and aircraft maintenance.
“The CRTC offers an outstanding opportunity for the 159th FW to simulate deploying. Airmen can obtain advanced and realistic training not available at our home station. In the past, our various units have individually deployed to places for their own specific training,” said Col Thomas P. Sostarics, commander 159th. “This deployment allows us to deploy most of the wing, so our Airmen get the opportunity to know each other.”
The deployed environment helps Airmen develop their technical and leadership skills.
“Out here they want you to take hold of your leadership role, take the young Airmen who have never been here before and show them the ropes. Make sure they’re focused on doing the job and getting the training that they need,” said Staff Sergeant Michael Louviere, F-15 crew chief, 159th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Airmen received valuable hands-on experience with equipment critical to supporting the flying mission. Maintenance crews worked diligently to ensure the F-15 operates at its full capability, by performing function checks on mission essential systems during pre and post flight inspections. These inspections include visual checks on fuel and oil levels, communication systems check, and battle damage inspections.
Members of the Civil Engineering Squadron trained on an excavator and a road grader used for runway repairs, while Airmen in the Force Support Squadron received training on refrigerator trucks and fork lifts that are used to support food operations in the dining facilities.