Wisconsin guardsmen assist in world’s greatest aviation celebration

  • Published
  • By Airman Cameron R. Lewis
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

More than 30 citizen Soldiers and Airmen with the Wisconsin National Guard participated in EAA AirVenture here July 23 – 29, to help protect and maintain Department of Defense assets that were on display at the air show.

“With over 30 military aircraft on site, the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard provided support with approximately seven security forces Airmen with the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison and the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, as well as military police Soldiers from the 34th MP Brigade Company in Milwaukee,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Hellekson, the lead coordinating officer at EAA and the chief of wing intelligence at the 128th. “There were also 16 aircraft maintainers, four fire fighters, and a variety of recruiters, all from Wisconsin units.”

With the assistance of the Army National Guard MPs, this year has truly been a joint operation, said Master Sgt. Matthew Parco, the security forces flight chief for the event and chief of information protection for the 128th Security Forces Squadron in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

While security forces was in charge of securing and protecting all Department of Defense assets, the maintainers were in charge of moving those assets.

“Being located within the same state as the event makes it easier for our maintainers to bring the equipment they need to operate in an environment like this,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Olena, a crew chief with the 128th ARW.

While the aircraft that flew in from out of state had their flight crew with them, the only people on the ground to handle those aircraft were from the 115th and the 128th.

The maintainers were in charge of handling all federal aircraft that were here, which included a C-5 Galaxy, F-35 Lightning II, KC-10 Extender and several other fighter aircraft from all branches of the military.

In addition to the Guard providing support with personnel, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, the adjutant general for the state of Wisconsin, participated in an interview panel that showcased the role of tanker aircraft.

“You can’t defend the country with just active duty personnel,” Dunbar said. “Leaders of the Air Force have long recognized the value of both the guard and reserve components, and the quality of the men and women we share with employers outside the military”.

Participating in the event gave military members the opportunity to interact with the community and showcase the armed forces in a positive way.

“This event was a great experience to be a part of,” said Senior Airman Alex Lopez, a security forces member with the 115th Security Forces Squadron. “A lot of people had an interest in learning about what we do and the aircraft we have.”

With a variety of military aircraft and personnel here, the event brings both military and civilian aviation enthusiasts together.

“Having the Air Force and other military aircraft here is truly invaluable,” said an EAA member that toured the KC-10 Extender here. “This is gigantic as it generates a love for the aviation community and the military.”