ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Airmen of the “Mighty 97th” are providing support for the delivery of troops and defense systems to Turkey.
The 97th Air Mobility Wing, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Army Brigade out of Fort Sill, Okla., and various units from Air Mobility Command joined forces to deploy Patriot missile batteries in support of NATO efforts to augment Turkey’s self-defense capabilities.
The deployment follows U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s Dec. 14, 2012 order to deploy the batteries to de-escalate the situation along the Turkey-Syrian border, while demonstrating Alliance solidarity and resolve.
Three Patriot batteries, more than two million pounds of equipment and about 400 personnel from 3-2 Air Defense Artillery Battalion elements will be transported by Air Mobility Command and Air Education and Training Command aircraft.
Airmen from Altus AFB, Charleston AFB, S.C; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Travis AFB, Calif.; reserve units from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas and Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., and a Kentucky Air Guard Contingency Response Group unit are providing a timely and safe delivery of troops and cargo throughout the 24-hour-a-day operation.
The 58th Airlift Squadron, 97th Security Forces Squadron, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and the 97th Maintenance Directorate and other units, ensured that Altus AFB was ready to perform.
The 58th AS powered up C-17 Globemaster III’s and prepared aircrews to complete their assigned missions.
“Here at Altus AFB, our focus is on training Airmen, and ensuring we are ready to support the U.S. by deploying personnel and equipment at a moment’s notice,” said Col. Anthony Krawietz, 97th AMW commander.
Despite the 97th AMW’s primary mission of training airlift and air refueling crews, the wing has deployed its members to support a number of worldwide contingencies and relief operations, the last occurring in 2008 in response to Hurricane Ike. The 97th AMW has also flown recent missions in support of humanitarian operations in Haiti.
“A deployment out of Altus AFB is not something you see often, but we are always prepared for the call. We, along with our Army brethren just down the road, are proud to be a part of the U.S. effort in supporting the defense of our Allies,” said Krawietz.