July Commander's View
By Col. Paul J. Hargrove, 146th Airlift Wing
/ Published July 07, 2012
CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. --
The 146th AW has been extremely busy the last couple of months with four inspections and the recent activation of MAFFS. The inspections went very well and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and efforts. Special congratulations to the AES who were awarded an "Outstanding" for their Health Services Inspection and to Maintenance Group for their well deserved and hard earned "Excellent" in the Logistics Compliance Assessment Program. We now set our sights on the Operational Readiness Inspection in October of 2013. I expect our wing to perform well in the ORI and I know you all expect the same.
On June 30th we sent two MAFFS aircraft to Colorado Springs to help fight the bad wildfire situation that had been burning for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, by the time the MAFFS were called over 250 homes had been lost and one life was lost. Then on July 1st, MAFFS 7 from North Carolina ANG was flying a retardant drop and something went terribly wrong. The aircraft crashed into the hills of South Dakota and four aircrew members were killed. By the grace of God, two aircrew members survived and were airlifted to a local hospital. The accident is under investigation and I can't speculate on any causes at this time. A Safety Investigation Board has been formed and will be conducting a thorough investigation. I will be flying to Charlotte on Monday to attend a memorial for the lost aircrew members and will be joined by several of the 146th AW personnel. We have worked with Charlotte for years in MAFFS and are deeply saddened for their loss. This is a time to reflect on how precious life is and grieve the loss of these courageous heroes from our sister Air Guard. We have lost members of our family, the Air National Guard. If anyone would like to donate to the families of the aircrew from MAFFS 7, there is a NOTAL on your email that gives instructions. We took a day off from fighting the wildfires and then resumed operations. I spoke with Col. Roger Williams today, the North Carolina Operations Group Commander. They have pulled the MAFFS 8 back to North Carolina to take part in the funerals, but expect to get back to the firefight soon. The 146th AW is currently in Cheyenne continuing to fly daily missions in support of the US Forest Service and the wildfire situation. Please say a prayer for our aircrews as they fly this dangerous mission.
Congressman Gallegly has introduced legislation to Congress requiring the US Forest Service to put the MAFFS I legacy units back in service. This is due to having only nine commercial air tankers this year to conduct aerial firefighting. Ten years ago there were forty four and I'm advocating expanding the role of the military in this mission. I will keep you updated on the progress of this legislation.
We have received the approval for a $30 million dollar C130J simulator and expect construction to start in 2015. The active duty Air Force will also join us with a squadron of aircrew and maintainers in FY 2017. This program is known as an Active Associate and I will give you more information in the next Commander's View.
Brig Gen. James Witham, the Adjutant General- Air, will be at our base on Saturday, 7 July, to visit with us and give us a town hall brief at 1300 in the wing auditorium. I will be walking around with him throughout the base, so I'll see you on Saturday.
Lastly, I would like to invite you to the 146th AW Dining Out on the 4th Of August, Saturday of Drill, at the top of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Ventura. This will be a lot of fun and I hope all of you can attend. There will be a live band and a celebrity or two may be seen at the event. The Adjutant General, Maj. General Baldwin, will attend. Please come out and let's celebrate together.
Paul Hargrove, Col.