WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Citizen soldiers. Weekend Warriors. The men and women of the reserve and National Guard component of our armed forces have been referred to by a number of names.
No matter the manner in which they are referred, the Reserve and Guard comprise a large portion of our nation’s armed forces.
The 434th Air Refueling Wing, based at Grissom Air Base in Indiana, but calling Wright-Patterson Air Force Base home for part of the summer while work is being done on their runways, is a typical example of a United State Air Force Reserve unit.
The 434th ARW is the largest air refueling unit in the Air Force Reserve Command with members traveling from 28 states to fulfil their duties.
The commanding officer of the 434th ARW, Col. Doug Schwartz said, “A reservist costs one-fifth the amount, annually, of an active duty airman.”
The 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson is another reserve unit. Its members are not service men and women from around the country, spending a couple of years in our area. The men and women of the 445th are your friends and neighbors, giving unselfishly of their time to protect our country.
A member of the 434th ARW defined his life in the service as “doing a full-time job, part-time, and a part-time job, full-time.” For most of our AF Reserve members the “typical” one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer doesn’t begin to cover the time commitment necessary to operate an efficient and professional military unit.
The 445th ALW has more than 1,800 members, 75 percent of whom are reservists. Col. Jeff McGalliard, commanding officer of the 445th said, “Air Force reservists in the 445th are long-time Ohio residents, voters and taxpayers,” within our communities.
The annual economic impact of the 445th ALW in our area is estimated to be 136 million dollars.
Col. McGalliard said that his unit receives “great support from the surrounding community.”
While many of the airmen … and women, are “part-time”, they operate in a full-time environment.
On any given day, C-17s from the 445th ALW are carrying out missions around the globe.
Last week, an aircraft from the 445th was assigned to bring American former-POW, Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdahl, back to the United States following some five years of imprisonment in the Middle East.
The 445th flies regular missions to Afghanistan in support of troops fighting in the Middle East.
Col. McGalliard gives thanks to the American public for continuing to support men and women and their mission. In a world of reduced funding and reduction in forces, he is happy to know that the public sees the value in continued support for the United States Air Force and its Reserve component.