American Legion National Security Commission Tours 128th Air Refueling Wing
By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze, 128th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published August 27, 2010
MILWAUKEE -- Forty-eight members of the American Legion's National Security Commission toured the 128th Air Refueling Wing here on Friday, August 27, 2010, as part of their annual convention.
The American Legion members, guided by several Airmen, Soldiers and senior military leaders from throughout Wisconsin, received a tour of a KC-135R Stratotanker,
F-16C Falcon, UH-60 Blackhawk and an Army mobile communications array.
Col. Ted Metzgar, the commander of the 128 ARW, started the tour by explaining the wing's refueling mission and contributions to global military efforts. He further explained that the wing's Stratotankers have recently contributed to on-going military missions in Afghanistan by performing aeromedical evacuation operations.
Col. Metzgar also described the specific challenges concerning deployments within the Air National Guard and National Guard.
"Deployments are a concern due to part-time personnel and their civilian jobs," he said. "Longer deployments can affect that member's [civilian] job status."
Elaine Schachelmayer, the 128 ARW Airman and Family Readiness Program manager, detailed her role in the wing's mission, saying, "We learned from [the Vietnam War] that no service member should have to go it alone."
"The Airman and Family Readiness Program is a vital component [of the wing], supported by every component and the commander of the 128th," Schachelmayer said.
Brig. Gen. John E. McCoy, the assistant adjutant general for Air, took the floor next.
"On behalf of the 10,000 military members of Wisconsin, welcome to Wisconsin and Milwaukee," he said. "We're very proud of this Wing . . . and it's a great opportunity to have you here."
The guided tour followed Gen. McCoy's words. Airmen from the 128 ARW led small groups of American Legion members onto the flightline, where several aircraft and their crews stood by to explain the nuances of the current military aerial assets on display.
During the guided tour, Patty Waltz, the American Legion Human Resources Director, said the American Legion was in Milwaukee for its annual convention. She added that the American Legion receives a tour of a military installation in whichever city the annual convention is held in.
Mike Duggan, the American Legion past deputy director for national security and a retired Army colonel, commented upon his military service by saying, "I wouldn't do it all again, but I'd do most of it again. And that's a credit to the service."
Following the guided tour, the American Legion members were given a locally-catered luncheon at Sijan Hall, the on-base dining facility. During this time, service members were able to talk with the American Legion members and answer any questions regarding the guided tour, military service or casual issues.
The day ended with an hour-long question-and-answer session, wherein a panel of seven Airmen and Soldiers fielding questions from the American Legion. These questions specifically concerned any perceived difficulties of military service and personal experiences from deployments overseas.
The National Security Commission of the American Legion requested the pre-convention tour to reconnect with military members and units, said Sam Gilmore, the deputy director of the American Legion National Security and Foreign Relations Committee. Attending American Legion members will use their experiences from the tour to better promote the well-being of service members, he said.