Old Glory raised, then lowered

If you visited the Air National Guard’s training center here in East Tennessee this week coming from any other U.S. active duty, National Guard or Reserve military installation, there would be one thing that you would notice the same – the American flag at half-staff.

The President and the governors can order the flag flown half-staff through the U.S. Flag Code in memorialization. This time, flags were raised to their peak, then lowered to halfway in honor of those victims of murder and assault in Las Vegas.

“Our Nation is heartbroken,” proclaimed President Donald Trump, in his notice for the American flag to fly half-staff, Oct. 2 to Oct. 6. Meaning, a week of reflection before the Columbus Day weekend. “As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering.”

These past years, I’d instead not recall how often I’ve walked across the base in the morning to see “Old Glory” flying below its peak to honor Americans under tragic events. It’s too often.
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Air Guard remains top community advocate

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. – It would not be out of the ordinary for someone in the East Tennessee Smoky Mountains region to know of a U.S. Air Force Airman.

That’s partly due to the community volunteerism generated here during last fiscal year through students at the Air National Guard’s I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

“The student’s daily schedule is packed full of academic requirements, so their dedication to service truly shows in their support to the local community while balancing the rigors of coursework,” said Chief Master Sgt. Winfield Hinkley, the commandant.

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Cargo flight to Saint Croix – enlisted leader, spouse find new assignment

Sassy, a Yorkshire Terrier, awaits a flight out of Savannah Air National Guard Base to St. Croix, Sept. 24, 2017, along with three other pets. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith) 

SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. – The National Guard hit the ground running this week to bring disaster response to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but getting off to a quick start is an understatement for Batina “Blue” Wesson and her husband, Army Sgt. Maj. Derwin Wesson.

Sergeant Major Wesson is the incoming U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard Command Sergeant Major. Hurricane Maria hit before he could arrive to take the position as the senior noncommissioned officer for all enlisted Soldiers.

“We’re going in with boots on the ground and get in,” said Blue.

She sat outside the door of an Air National Guard airlift hub and contingency processing center Sept. 24 at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. The sergeant major checked on their flight to Saint Croix. Accompanying her were their pets, Zoo, a Bengal cat, as well as three dogs – Sassy and Pinky Winky – both Yorkshire Terriers – and Mr. Biggie – a Miniature Pinscher.

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Air Guard airlift

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base prepare 38,000 pounds of meals-ready-to-eat, Sept. 26, 2017, to send as air cargo to disaster areas from Hurricanes Maria and Irma at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. The group of more than 16 Airmen is working around the clock on 12-hour shifts for handling air cargo. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

165th Airlift Wing keeps disaster relief moving

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base prepare 38,000 pounds of meals-ready-to-eat, Sept. 26, 2017, to send as air cargo to disaster areas from Hurricanes Maria and Irma at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base were operating around the clock this week to send disaster relief to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The group of more than 16 Airmen began 12-hour shifts for handling air cargo out of Savannah shortly after the islands’ devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria became known.

By the looks of things here, the busy operations seemed a good sign that the military did not forget those in dire need.

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Carried response to Maria

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, Ga., drive forklifts with hurricane response supplies and gear for airlift to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, Sept. 25, 2017, at Savannah Air National Guard Base. The cargo was loaded onto a 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard C-130J cargo aircraft. The flight departed this morning with a security forces contingency from the Washington Air National Guard as well as embedded national media from NBC nightly news. As of Monday morning, the 165th Airlift Wing loaded C-130 and KC-135 aircraft from 11 states with cargo, gear, and passengers in 69 sorties to the disaster areas in Puerto Rico and St. Croix. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

Hurricane change of station

Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Derwin Wesson and his wife Batina or “Blue” Wesson, await a flight out of Savannah Air National Guard Base to St. Croix, Sept. 24, 2017. Wesson is the incoming Virgin Islands Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major. The couple was delayed at the Georgia Air National Guard, 165th Airlift Wing processing center with their cat and three dogs during their change of station, amidst hurricane disaster recovery efforts in the Caribbean. Hundreds of military, state and federal personnel are processing through the support for contingency operations center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)