19th ARG Aircrew Life Support Team wins AF award

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
Keeping aircraft in the safety zone and ensuring Airmen are secure on and off board is keeping the 19th Air Refueling Group's Aircrew Life Support Team pretty busy.

The 10-person team is staying on top of its mission though, as its 2006 Outstanding Life Support Small Team of the Year Air Force award attests.

Master Sgt. James Garner, superintendent of Aircrew Life Support for the 19th ARG, said part of his shop's job is to ensure Airmen receive local survival and water survival training, as well as teach them how to live off of the land and fight in a chemical warfare environment.

"It's a pretty big (mission)," he said. "We have 13 aircraft here, about 122 aircrew members who are assigned and attached. Each one of those aircrew members has a helmet, has a mask that those guys inspect on a regular basis, as well as a chemical warfare bag that has to be inspected on regular intervals."

Airman 1st Class Andrea James, ALS journeyman in the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, said he knows one mistake in his job could mean someone's life. It's a responsibility he takes very serious.

"We put a lot of time and effort into the work that we do on an everyday basis," he said.

Sergeant Garner said the award recognizes all of the great things people on the team have done together for the mission and the achievements they've reached in their own time.

The superintendent said the team was the only one within their unit to score an outstanding rating in the 2006 Unit Compliance Inspection.

"Very few people get outstanding ratings during a UCI, and we were able to achieve that," he said.

In addition to the team's high rating in the inspection, several team members earned post-secondary degrees and devoted their time to Junior ROTC as well as the Honor Guard.

All the while, the ALS team maintained deployments and kept aircraft ready to fly missions.

Being recognized for their hard work isn't anything new for the team. The team earned similar accolades in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 at the Air Mobility Command level.

Landing an Air Force-level award is something altogether new for the ALS team however.

"(It is) super," Sergeant Garner said. "We work really hard and we always have people deployed. We're always training. There's always something that comes up. But, our folks back there, our whole team put in a concerted effort and it really pushed us through."

The sergeant said he expects the team will be presented with their honor at the Annual Worldwide Life Support Symposium in Reno, Nev., in late October.