By Master Sgt. Jeff Walston
913th Airlift Group
Editor’s Note: The 2nd Annual Turkey Shoot ended with 48th Airlift Squadron taking first place, 913th Airlift Group taking second place and 41st Airlift Squadron taking third place.
The 913th Airlift Group reached two milestones during the 2nd Annual Turley Shoot competition: flying their first mission with a C-130J flown by an all-913th AG aircrew, and flying the first J-variant mission for the Air Force Reserve Command.
What they didn’t expect was that an aircrew assigned to the 327th Airlift Squadron, part of the 913th AG, would place second in the competition. This was especially surprising as this was their very first all-913th AG flight since transitioning from the C-130H to the C-130J last year.
The competition was May 13, 2016, with the award ceremony held May 20. During the awards ceremony, it was announced that “TUSK21,” the 327th AS team, placed well in each category with an overall performance resulting in second place.
“This was the unit’s first flight, and although expectations were high, the lack of experience on the “J” model was in play,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. James Crawford, 327th AS loadmaster. “Making this was somewhat of a surprise, even though aircrew and maintenance personnel from the 913th AG have been in training on the ‘J’ model for months.”
The Turkey Shoot, a competition with six aircrews vying for the top prize, was hosted by the 314th Airlift Wing. There were two aircrews from the 61st Airlift Squadron, and one each from the 41st Airlift Squadron, 48th Airlift Squadron, 327th Airlift Squadron and the 714th Training Squadron. All of the units are based at Little Rock.
The competition covered 10 different areas of tactical airlift including the on-loading and off-loading a Humvee, assault landings, simulated airdrop training, high-level and low-level time control, threat mitigation and simulating degraded GPS-operations— all designed to evaluate and test the aircrews in every aspect of Combat Airlift.
Umpires, or evaluators, on each aircraft reviewed the aircrews’ performance. U.S. Air Force Maj. Steve Freeman, 48th AS, was the crew’s umpire for 327th AS, while U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dave Hemphill, 327th AS, was onboard as an observer.
The 327th AS aircrew consisted of U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Chris Dickens, aircraft commander; U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Mike Gerstner, copilot; U.S. Air Force Reserve Chief Master Sgt. Steve Tarrance and U.S. Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. James Crawford as the loadmasters.
The 913th AG was re-designated as a classic association earlier this year and doesn’t own its own aircraft. The aircraft they flew was on loan from the 41st AS.
Airmen from the 913th Maintenance Squadron worked alongside Airmen from the 19th Maintenance Squadron Airmen to prepare, launch and recover the aircraft.
“This is yet another first for Team Little Rock. Our first dedicated AFRC mission in a J-model has come about through unprecedented teamwork and coordination. Our 327th Aircrew have worked hand in hand with the 41st in the training and preparation leading up to this mission,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Neil Hede, 327th AS commander. “I am proud of the progress we’ve made and that this mission wouldn’t have taken place if our supporting functions, the 913th and 19th Operations Support Squadrons were not fully engaged.”
U.S. Air Force Reserve Col. Craig Drescher, 913th AG commander, was impressed with the 327th AS Airmen’s preparation and performance in the competition.
“The crew overcame challenges in the scenario and some unexpected obstacles with the plane. The umpire was extremely impressed with the professionalism and abilities of the crew,” Drescher said. “Please join me in congratulating all the maintainers who made the mission happen and our crew that represented the 913th AG in exemplary fashion.”