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Robins unit receives recognition from Japan

ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- Supporting the warfighter is a way of life for Team Robins members. However, for some team members, supporting the warfighter goes beyond the American military.

For the C-130 Technical Coordination Group, supporting C-130s used by countries around the world is their job, which means their warfighters aren't always flying the American flag.

The TCG was recently presented a citation by the Japan Air Self Defense Force, one of 23 countries the group supports for their "irreplaceable partnership in the defense of Japan."

"We are engaged in fighting the Global War on Terrorism. Japan is part of the alliance in the Global War on Terrorism," said Sherman Rankin, chief of the C-130 TCG.

Lt. Col. Masafumi "Happy" Ito, Japan's foreign liaison officer at Robins, said each November the Japan Air Self Defense Force chooses an organization to recognize for their outstanding support of the Air Materiel Command.

The citation, written by Lt. Gen. Katsumi Koshika, commander of the Air Materiel Command, said the groups "unparalleled excellence in program management and logistics expertise was critical to the rapid implementation of various aircraft modifications which, in turn, ensured the operational safety of the C-130s deployed in support of Japan's Iraq Reconstruction Assistance Program."

David Baugham, who is the country manager for Japan, said the citation was the first one the C-130 TCG had ever been presented since it was formed in 1987.

"It was a nice gesture. It was a surprise to us," Mr. Baugham said.

"It's better than them just saying 'hey you did a good job' and patting us on the back. They did something more lasting, something we can show off for years to come," Mr. Rankin said.

The TCG, which is attached to the 561st Aircraft Sustainment Squadron, is the Air Force point of contact for engineering, logistical and technical support personnel to countries who pay membership fees to enroll in the support program.

"Basically we are on contract to support that country," Mr. Rankin said.

The personnel provide a member country reporting process, where requests for engineering and technical assistance can be made. Some of the other ways the TCG assists member countries is with modifications to the C-130s, safety of flight issues, helps locating part numbers and will provide on-site engineering assistance for mishap investigations.

The TCG not only provides support from afar, a team of technical TCG personnel also visits the countries and provides new information and tours the countries facilities. The TCG also invites member countries to the World Wide Review, which is a week-long conference where countries can discuss issues and are provided new information about the C-130.