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120th Maintenance Group Commander Col. Buel Dickson.

120th Maintenance Group Commander Col. Buel Dickson.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- A lot has happened since the wing received its first "Herk" two years ago. The men and women of the 120th have worked hard to get us to this place, deploying our first Airmen and C-130's to support our nation's efforts right after declaring end-of-conversion.  It has been an entire wing effort and somewhat tasking for all of us, but due to your dedication, the Vigilantes are back out answering the nation's call.

Every group, shop and Airman has had an impact at getting us to this point.  Although operations and maintenance are the bulk of the deployment with members from the medical group, logistics readiness squadron and communications flight also deploying, it would have been impossible without the support of the entire wing.  It is easy to forget about the other support functions during conversion. They were busy learning and implementing new programs, procedures while dealing with construction, TDY's and other tasking's all while supporting the busy schedule to get our Airmen trained.

Operations and maintenance have also maintained a robust schedule, flying as many missions and hours as other more seasoned C-130 wings.  Operations has successfully completed as much, if not more, off-station missions in support of Air Mobility Command than most wings.  They have combined that with local flying training to ensure our aircrew are the best they can be when deployed.  Maintenance dealt with lack of facilities due to construction which forced them to perform their duties in less than favorable weather conditions during a demanding schedule, all while ensuring their own training.  With all that said, looking from the outside, the wing has performed as if we were never in conversion.

Although there is a big difference between maintaining a fighter wing and converting to a C-130 airlift wing, the men and women of the Montana Air National Guard have made this conversion seem nearly effortless.  Two years ago, there were many "unknowns" and a degree of anxiety about the future. Now it is the future and we have embraced our new mission.  My hat is off to you all!

While our Airmen are deployed, we need to look ahead and prepare for their return and continue to develop our "battle rhythm" for our future success.  This is the time to give programs like MICT, IGEMS, local checklists and safety any needed attention required to clean up those loose ends.

Use this time to regroup not only at work but in your personal life as well.  Strengthen those family relationships that may have been stretched during our last push out the door.  It's easy to get so involved with our mission at work and not realize we have shorthanded our families with our time.  They truly are our backbone!  As always, if senior staff can support in any other areas please don't hesitate to ask.  Congratulations on the great job and your success!
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