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Above and Beyond: Airmen Display Top-notch Skills for Director of the Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brook Sumonja
  • 190th Air Refueling Wing

TOPEKA, KS -- Airmen from the 190th Air Refueling Wing showcased their proficiency and capabilities during an exclusive tour for Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director, Air National Guard on March 5, 2024. The interactive tour provided an immersive experience rooted in the 190th’s mission, highlighting its distinctions and demonstrating the refueling wings capabilities.

The focused tour was designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the wing’s unique attributes and achievements, emphasizing its vital role within the Air National Guard.

The mission of the 190th ARW is to provide agile, responsive and reliable air refueling capabilities in support of national defense objectives while ensuring the rapid and efficient deployment of airpower anytime, anywhere.

Through engaging discussions and firsthand demonstrations, Loh gained insight into the wing’s operational readiness, innovative practices, and the commitment to excellence in fulfilling its missions.

As Loh toured Forbes Field he was introduced to various units on base who play an intricate role in accomplishing Air National Guard missions. One of the first stops on the tour was the 190th Medical Group.

“It was great to showcase the lines of effort the 190th MDG Airmen are getting after,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Payne, 190th Medical Group. “General Loh’s engagement and enthusiasm with the austere medical lab and words of encouragement about our state partnership engagements with Armenia were motivating for our Airmen.”

The 190th MDG’s mission is to provide timely and quality medical evaluations for wing members deployability, implement effective industrial hygiene and preventative medical programs, and train Airmen for deployment to medical treatment facilities.

To enhance Airmen readiness, Chief Master Sgt. Wallace Brannen walked Loh through a visit to the austere environmental lab, which is an innovative training approach to providing medical care in challenging and resource-limited environments. Drawing from his extensive background as a trained paramedic and registered nurse, Brannen underscored the imperative need for our Force to conduct training exercises that mirror real-world scenarios.

The 190th is committed to offering top-tier training resources to its Airmen, aiming to enhance their skill sets, readiness and execution beyond proficiency standards.

Loh experienced firsthand the 190th’s capabilities as he engaged in a hands-on refueling practice using the Boom Operator Simulation System. The BOSS allowed Loh to experience a simulated low level altitude refueling mission between a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and a receiving aircraft.

“Showcasing the Boom Operator Simulation System (BOSS) and demonstrating Low Level Air Refueling on the simulator to General Loh provided insight into the 190th’s progress in LLAR training within the KC-135 Stratotanker community,” said Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Neidhardt, 190th Air Refueling Wing, Chief Boom. “General Loh’s engagement with the simulator training and participation in the mission with Buckley F16 LLAR, highlighted the excellence of 190th Airmen in the KC-135 Field, reinforcing his trust in their readiness for future conflicts.”

In preparation for potential future conflict, Chief Master Sgt. Shad England, 190th Maintenance Group introduced to Loh the concept of Kingfish Agile Combat Employment. England transformed Kingfish ACE into a tanker specific, educational wargame that teaches ACE concepts and the importance of combat air power from austere locations.

“From the moment General Loh and Diane touched down, to when they departed, the recurring theme was people, and how they solve problems and care for each other,” said Lt. Col. Noah Diehl, 190 Mission Support Group, Deputy Commander.

Loh and his wife sat down with Airmen for a luncheon during their visit and asked each Airmen to share where they’re from, what job they do, and how they became a member of the Air National Guard. Each story told shared the common theme of enjoying being in the ANG, with a clear understanding of the sacrifices that come through service.

“The love stems from the coyote culture of mutual respect, inclusion, innovation, problem solving, mission focus, purpose, connection and community,” said Diehl. “Lt. Gen. Loh emphasized that your personal journey and sharing your experiences has the power to fill the ranks and grow the unit connectedness, ultimately fueling our purpose.”

After visiting a few more units around base, Loh concluded his visit at the 190th with an all-call briefing, where he shared his experience and expertise as an Airman and a leader in the Air National Guard while facilitating an open forum for service members to ask questions. This fostering dialogue, emphasized the wing’s commitment to connectedness and facilitating important conversations. At the conclusion of his speech he urged the Airmen of the 190th to be inspired, to take charge and to share their stories.