127th CES in Ghana, Africa
Technical Sgt. Ken Forche uses a saw to cut a piece of lumber as Senior Airman Derek Leppek holds the board steady during a deployment to Accra, Ghana, April 12, 2010. The 127th Civil Engineering Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard, deployed to Ghana for two weeks in April to help perform a major renovation on this training building used by the air force of Ghana. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Dan Heaton)
Multi-State Effort Supports West African Partner



by TSgt Dan Heaton
127th Wing


4/12/2010 - Accra, Ghana -- Air National Guardsmen from three states are working together to support a new partnership with the west African nation of Ghana.

A detachment of Airmen from the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Civil Engineer Squadron (127 CES) arrived in Ghana on April 8, 2010, to work on a construction project at Ghana's Acota Air Base, on the outskirts of the nation's capital city of Accra. The Michigan Air Guardsmen are working alongside a contingent of Guardsmen from the North Dakota Air National Guard. Several North Dakota Guardsmen are at the worksite managing the overall project. After the Michigan CES team works at the site for about two weeks, a similar team from North Dakota will pick up where Michigan left off.

"Working with our Ghana partners is a way to build up goodwill and camaraderie between the two nations," explained Maj John Gibbs, the base civil engineer with North Dakota's 119th Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron.

The Michigan Guardsmen were transported to Ghana by a KC-135 Stratotanker operated by the 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard, which is based in Topeka, Kansas. The Kansas Coyotes, as the Kansas wing is known, flew with additional crew to accommodate the long flight from Selfridge to the Lajes Field in the Azores Islands in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, and then on to Ghana.

For most of the Guardsmen involved, arriving in Ghana marked a first visit to the African continent.

"It was a new experience for us," said SMSgt Doug Copeland, one of three Kansas Guardsmen who served as crew chiefs for the flight to Ghana. "No one on our crew had ever landed in Africa before."

The mission to Ghana is a part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program in which state National Guard's partner with emerging nations to help support stable governments and build relations between the two nations. Ghana recently became a partner with North Dakota. Michigan is establishing a partnership with Liberia, a neighboring nation to Ghana. The Michigan Guard has also enjoyed a long partnership with Latvia, a relationship which continues.