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Our Story

The Readers Digest version of an
eighteen year diary

After much planning, on 1 April 1982, five Military Airlift Command (MAC) gained Airlift Control Elements (ALCEs) were established at the following ANG Tactical Airlift Wing Headquarters: Van Nuys, California, Dallas, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Nashville, Tennessee. The mission of these elements was to support airlift missions where command and control, mission reporting, or support functions as required, are non-existent or require augmentation, i.e. the ALCE must be able to deploy to a bare base, establish an Airlift Operation Center, and manage the loading and unloading, refueling, and controlling of all the airlift activity at that location.

With these instructions, ten of us began a very arduous training program at our home station, Van Nuys ANGB. We spent the summer of 1982 commuting back and forth to Norton AFB, training with the active duty ALCE there, it was a cultural shock for both units. Our average age was 45 with 25 years or so of service, theirs considerably less, but it was a good blend and the training progressed smoothly and our unit was certified that December. By being trained and certified this opened a door for us to deploy as a unit or on an individual basis as needed to support airlift activities world-wide. We took advantage of this right away. It was off to Korea to support the marines in an  exercise that encompassed the entire country, from the DMZ in the north, to the southern tip  of the peninsula at Pusan. We traveled by train, trucks, everything but aircraft. For an airlift unit this was something really strange and new to us. We lived on the Korean economy as we hopscotched across the country one step ahead of the marines and the aircraft that supported them. It was long hours, hard work, but we were hooked; there was no stopping us now.

For the next seven years we trained and supported deployments wherever we were needed. All over Europe and down to South America to support rebuilding roads in Ecuador. Team Spirit in Korea. Saipan with the Seabees re-doing runways. During this time frame, we also worked closely with our own wing in their airlift requirements such as Red Flag, Hawaii Guardlift, Purple Penny, Cold Fire, Purple Duck, Sentry Pineapple, Tight Seal, Desert Shootout, Sentry Mai-Tai, and many ORE/ORI exercises. We also developed our affiliation training program and worked and trained up to eleven affiliated units, conducting both formal classroom and hands-on training as well as static loaders. We provided staff assistance, command orientation, load and mission planning validation, and hosted affiliation conferences. It was a great time.

Big changes came late in 1988 when we moved from Van Nuys ANGB (the wing's home for forty years) to our new base in Ventura County. This was a brand new facility. We had been involved in the design process and were able to get what we thought we needed. We didn't know at that time, but we were going to increase our strength by forty percent and triple our mobility equipment . But it was really nice moving into our new offices. Soon after we settled in to our new building it was business as usual; deployments to Schoonover LZ, Hawaii Guardlift, Affiliation training. Then the San Francisco earthquake hit and we deployed to Los Alamitos to establish an airhead for relief support and supplies. We then supported some Operation Deep Freeze re-supply missions out of Point Mugu. Then it was off to Korea for Team Spirit, where we ran the LZ at Yoju that year.  By now we were getting calls for help in supporting the Gulf buildup. We worked various locations as needed. Then it happened, select members of our unit were activated for the war. We went in different directions to fill key vacancies. After serving in many theaters, we were released from active duty 31 July 1991.

It was back to the grind, all the usual airlift support, affiliation training, JAATT's at Schoonover LZ and even one at Norton AFB. With our eyes glued to CNN, we got the call to go to Los Alamitos and establish an airhead for the LA Riots, that was a week of uncertainty. Life then returned to normal, a couple of SAAM's at North Islands, MST's here and there, another Hawaii Guardlift. We woke that morning to the shaking of the Northridge Earthquake fifty miles away. We deployed within four hours to March AFB with an MST. Life goes on, ORE/ORI support till it comes out of our ears. Now its fires and then the floods, Southern California needs it's own TALCE just to keep up with all their disasters (but that's why were here). A trip to Thailand gets every one in a good mood. More of the usual ORE/ORI support, Affiliation training, we work with the March AFB ALCF on Patriot Hook, a good exercise that gets their affiliates involved. After a year of planing, we go to Fort Drum for Global Patriot and operate an LZ for Air Evacuation operations, three weeks later were back home.  It's Sunday, we're supposed to leave on Tuesday for two weeks of affiliation training in Hawaii with a new unit. The phone rings, they need us to go to Los Alamitos for Hurricane Mitch Relief Support for Central America. Call Hawaii, reschedule for next month, go to Los Alamitos. Build Fifty-five pallets with over 250,000 lbs. of relief supplies, eleven days, a million phone calls, we're out of there two days before Thanksgiving. We leave the following Monday for New Orleans for a computer workshop. Back on Friday, Drill weekend, leave Tuesday for that Hawaii class. And so it goes.