ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma –
A C-17 Globemaster III aircrew assigned to the 58th Airlift Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, supported the transport of the Air Force’s newest Basic Military Training graduates from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to their technical training school at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, March 20, 2020.
“This mission was a last-minute task to take freshly graduated Airmen from Lackland to their tech school,” said Capt. Aaron Peercy, a C-17 instructor pilot assigned to the 58th AS. “This last-minute travel was necessary due to COVID-19, which caused complications with the original routine travel plans that these airmen typically take.”
In an effort to enhance Airman safety in the midst of the COVID-19 threat, the 58th AS transported 114 BMT graduates and their possessions to their training schoolhouse, more than 600 miles away, at Keesler Air Force Base.
“These types of ‘out in the system’ missions are beneficial because it helps our instructors stay proficient at the larger mobility mission and variety beyond ‘flying around the flagpole,’" Peercy said. “It’s always a goal of the 97th Air Mobility Wing to be an additional asset for the Air Force to use during pandemics and other events.”
The 97th AMW continues to fulfill its mission of training exceptional mobility Airmen in lieu of the ongoing world efforts of combating COVID-19 while supporting other missions within Air Education and Training Command. The support provided to these Airmen ensures that the essential mission of recruiting, educating, and training exceptional Airmen does not stop.
“For this mission, the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron was responsible for coordinating the seating arrangement for 114 BMT graduates, assuring the safety of the members on the flight and their equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Raleigh Randolph, an aerial operations supervisor assigned to the 97th LRS. “By facilitating a safe transfer of equipment from ground to flight, we keep the training mission here running smooth.”
Since 2010, Keesler-bound Airmen have been utilizing commercial airlines, and before then, busses, as transportation to one of their 39 Air Force schoolhouses at Keesler. Due to the stop movement order, students had no other way to reach their destination.
“From a larger Air Force perspective, keeping students on track to their tech school keeps our squadrons supplied with the talent we need to complete our mission,” Peercy said. “Having the flexibility to accomplish missions like these helps the Air Force stay flexible in a changing world and face a variety of challenges such as pandemics.”
Airmen do not often receive the opportunity to travel aboard the world's most flexible cargo aircraft in the airlift force. This fortunate group of the Air Force’s newest Airmen received that opportunity one day after BMT graduation.
“Today we delivered 150 of the Air Force’s newest Airmen to their next chapter in Air Force training,” said Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander. “With COVID-19 concerns and restricted travel, we’re teaming up across 2nd and 19th Air Force’s to take appropriate steps to protect Airmen and ultimately, protect America’s combat power. I confess, I’m jealous though. I was in the Air Force for 29 years before my first ride in a C-17. What a great way to start an Air Force career.”