TERRE HAUTE, IN, UNITED STATES --
HULMAN FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. (Sept. 9, 2021) -- Over 1,000 military personnel converged on Hulman Field in Terre Haute, Ind. and the surrounding area in August to participate in a joint exercise called Jaded Thunder.
The 181st Intelligence Wing and the Terre Haute Regional Airport teamed up to host the exercise.
When an event of this magnitude rolls into town, it is not only the number of personnel that stand out but also the amount of equipment that accompany them. When it comes to moving equipment at Hulman Field, the 181st Logistics Readiness Flight is the unit that answers the call.
“When we heard that we were hosting Jaded Thunder, I was unsure of how [the LRF was] going to support it,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Corrine Foree, the 181st LRF commander. “As the planning conferences went on and we met the Jaded Thunder planning staff, it made me feel proud that we were going to be able to highlight some of the skills that we typically don’t get to use.”
For the exercise, the 181st LRF supported movement of equipment, fueling of vehicles, and provision of ammunitions for the aircraft. Basically, the 181st Intelligence Wing had a flying mission in a matter of days thanks to the 181st LRF.
“Even though [the 181st IW] do[es] not have a flying mission, we still have an agile combat support mission that we have to be ready for,’’ said Foree. “It does not matter if we are at an intel wing or a fighter wing. Our Airmen are trained and equipped for ACS missions.”
Being trained and ready to accomplish agile combat support missions is the key to success, especially when cargo starts coming in at a fast rate.
“Prior to the start of the exercise, we had over 80 trucks of cargo that we assisted the Jaded Thunder team in unloading and staging,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Hunt, a 181st LRF traffic management office superintendent. “Additionally, after operations started, we received shipments of aircraft parts from their home station to support flying operations.”
Since Hulman Field is considered to have airfield facilities and capabilities that are well-suited to host and support a variety of joint and Air Force military missions and exercises, there was plenty of space to stage the cargo.
With the live-fire exercise Jaded Thunder utilizing aircraft, there needed to be structures and facilities that could handle various ammunitions for the aircraft.
“We received all of the munitions, equipment and trailers associated with the munitions,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandin Grant, a 181st LRF munitions specialist. “With the aircraft being here, we [were] running 20 hour days to accommodate the flying schedule, building all of the munitions and delivering them to the aircraft loaders.”
Since 2007, when the 181st IW transitioned from a fighter aircraft mission to an intelligence mission, munitions personnel at the 181st IW have not dealt with aircraft.
“We had to get the munitions storage area back up to standards to host aircraft and store munitions items like bombs, missiles, rockets, flares and bullets,” said Grant. “It was a lot of leg work over the past few months.”
Within those months, Grant and his team got everything up to speed to store the munitions for the exercise.
“Our team has been phenomenal,” said Foree. “We have a lot of talented and motivated Airmen that jump right in and seamlessly support the mission at hand.”
Indeed, other Airmen shared Foree’s sentiments.
“It has been a great opportunity to support an active duty mission as well as supporting aircraft and to show what we are capable of,” said Hunt. “This exercise makes me feel like we are making a meaningful impact -- especially seeing the aircraft take-off -- knowing that’s the result of our work.”
The success of the mission was a team effort, and everyone pitched in as part of that team.
“LRF as a whole has really stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with everything about this exercise,” said Grant. “Every shop adapted schedules, maintained positive attitudes and were happy to roll up their sleeves and do any task asked of them.”