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Phantom relocation provides innovative training opportunity

Staff Sgt. Tracy Hermanson, 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team member, guides the fusalage of an F-4S Phantom aircraft as it's relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Staff Sgt. Tracy Hermanson, 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team member, guides the fusalage of an F-4S Phantom aircraft as it's relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Senior Master Sgt. Dana Cook, 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team member, operates air distribution manifolds for the aircraft  lifting bags supporting an F-4S Phantom aircraft being relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Senior Master Sgt. Dana Cook, 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team member, operates air distribution manifolds for the aircraft lifting bags supporting an F-4S Phantom aircraft being relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Veterans of Foreign Wars members look on as Technical Sgt. Micah Agee, a member of the 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, guides the fusalage of an F-4S Phantom aircraft as it's relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire VFW Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Veterans of Foreign Wars members look on as Technical Sgt. Micah Agee, a member of the 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, guides the fusalage of an F-4S Phantom aircraft as it's relocated for display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire VFW Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, reconstruct an F-4S Phantom static display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, reconstruct an F-4S Phantom static display on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Tech. Sgt. Alex White, a member of the 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, guides a forklift operator during the reassembly of an F-4S Phantom static aircraft on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Tech. Sgt. Alex White, a member of the 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, guides a forklift operator during the reassembly of an F-4S Phantom static aircraft on the grounds of Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 in Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 commander, and retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer Mike Wenger, center of front row, poses with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, following the installation of an F-4S Phantom static display on the post's grounds just north of Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

Truax-Longmire Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 commander, and retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer Mike Wenger, center of front row, poses with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Crash Damage or Disabled Aircraft Recovery team, following the installation of an F-4S Phantom static display on the post's grounds just north of Madison, Wis., Sept. 20, 2014. The eight airmen representing the 115 FW CDDAR team were able to complete critical training requirements by removing and relocating the aircraft to Madison from its previous home at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman)

MADISON, Wis. -- Approximately six months ago, the topic was brought up. Could the 115th Fighter Wing help a local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 move an F-4S Phantom II static display from Indiana to Wisconsin?

After multiple discussions, PowerPoint presentations and meetings with his leadership, Senior Master Sgt. Dave Dahlke, 115 FW maintenance squadron structures, was authorized to put his plans into action. He could use this transport opportunity as a training exercise for his Airmen. That's exactly what he did.

"I had been working hand-in-hand with Col. Hamilton to see how we could put this together and how we could pull it off," Dahlke said. "Then it came to me. We could use it as a training exercise."

Dahlke focused on the training piece from a crash recovery team standpoint.

"There are three brand new team chiefs out there who needed to have a hands-on training on an instructional aircraft or a real-world aircraft every two years to be qualified," he said. "This fit the bill for three brand new team chiefs as well as the remainder of the crew out there. They need to be certified every three years, so the timing couldn't have been more perfect."

Once Dahlke was given the final go-ahead, he had approximately two weeks to pull everything together.

"Luckily I had already been planning," Dahlke said. "Once I was given the go-ahead, I just called everyone up and put the plan into action."

He had already coordinated several local companies in the Madison, Wisconsin, area and others from the Camp Atterbury, Indiana, area to help out. The volunteers were abundant.

"We had a lot of volunteers and companies who gave us huge price breaks," Dahlke said. "We couldn't have gotten the work done without their help."

The crew departed Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 14. By Sept. 20, there were several people at the VFW waiting to welcome the jet to its new home.

"This was really an unprecedented training exercise for us primarily because of the community involvement that we're doing with this aircraft," said Col. Donald Hamilton, 115 FW maintenance group commander.

Hamilton was at the ceremony that welcomed the aircraft to Wisconsin.

"This is a great day," he said. "We not only had an opportunity to take some of our fine maintainers and accomplish some of our training goals, we also had a chance to give a little bit back to the community in which we serve every day."
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