Citizen Airmen from the 944th Fighter Wing pride themselves with “bringing the heat” but for this year’s annual tour to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, these Airmen instead brought a force of approximately 80 to work with their active-duty brethren.
Airmen with the 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 944th Security Forces Squadron, along with various support staff, braved the sweltering humidity of the tropical island, to support members of the 18th LRS and 18th SFS and gain valuable on-the-job experience.
“Our purpose for coming to Kadena is threefold: to get some great training and experience, provide assistance to the 18th LRS and 18th SFS, and boost morale for retainability,” said Lt. Col. Kip Schlum, 944th LRS commander. “We want to give our new Airmen an idea of what it’s like to deploy.”
Part of the mission of the 18th Wing is to provide “premier counter air, air refueling, command and control, and combat search and rescue” and also to strengthen “regional alliances through joint, bilateral, and multilateral engagement and ambassadorship.”
Airmen from both active-duty and reserve sides of the house wasted no time in coming together and working on the mission at hand.
“We want to give our Airmen the chance to embed with an active-duty unit and receive valuable joint training with them,” said Senior Master Sgt. James Lindsay, 944th LRS superintendent.
Lindsay is also the assistant project officer for this year’s annual tour to Kadena, now dubbed as “Operation Patriot Habu” named after a snake species indigenous to the island.
Gaining valuable experience is the primary goal for this mission, but it’s also important for the visiting Airmen to leave a good impression with their American and Okinawan hosts.
“We want to leave a good impression and by the end of our tour, leave this island better than we found it,” Lindsay said.
Schlum agrees, saying his goal for his team is to be invited back to Kadena for another joint mission.
“My hope is our Airmen gets the training they need for their respective career fields and have the 18th LRS invite us to come back in the future,” Schlum said. “We need to work hard, have a good time, integrate with our counterparts, build relationships and be safe.”