Missouri Airmen train, adapt, overcome in Hawaii
By Senior Airman Audrey Chappell, 139th Airlift Wing
/ Published March 21, 2020
KAPOLEI, Hawaii --
The Missouri Air National Guard’s 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron trained in Hawaii with the Hawaii National Guard March 12 - 13, 2020.
The Airmen traveled there to get training on tasks they’re unable to in Missouri.
Tech. Sgt. Arthur Gregorian, 241st radar, airfield and weather systems noncommissioned officer in charge (NCO-IC), says this experience is good to get necessary hands-on training.
“Coming to Hawaii is a huge privilege for us,” Gregorian said. “We get to do things that we normally don’t get to experience back at home station.”
The goal of the training was to practice tearing down a radar system and rebuilding it, and maintaining a mobile air traffic control tower.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Pritchett, 241st radar maintenance NCO-IC, says in a deployment situation they have only 72 hours to pack up the radar and rebuild it to control traffic in a remote location.
“That’s why it’s so important for us to be proficient at a tear down and build,” Pritchett said, “Because if that phone call comes we don’t have the opportunity to train these guys in a real world situation.”
They’re unable to practice on the radar system in their home squadron in Missouri because it’s continuously being used to control local air traffic. The squadron’s new Airmen got to train on the equipment for the first time, and the experienced Airmen got to cross-train due to a recent merger in careers.
However, the training was cut short due to the risks of the coronavirus. The Airmen were meant to train for six days, but it was shortened to two days. Lt. Col. Nathan Vanhoof, 241st commander, says the safety of the Airmen was the priority when he decided to end the trip early.
“It’s about balancing the mission with the Airmen,” Vanhoof said. “It’s easy to make those decisions when weather prevents us from training and the potential of getting quarantined in Hawaii.”
Pritchett says they are able to adapt to complete some beneficial training in Hawaii, and possibly complete other important training tasks when they return home.
The squadron plans to continue training tasks on their mobile air traffic control tower at a later date.
“Honestly, we can make the best of a bad situation,” Pritchett said. “It’s just a matter of being flexible.”