Reservists train at Patriot Warrior

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Citizen Airmen from the 512th Civil Engineer Squadron joined other Air Force Reserve Airmen for two weeks in August during the Patriot Warrior exercise, here.

“Patriot Warrior exercises the wartime skills of several different communities within the Air Force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Hill, Air Force explosive ordnance disposal functional area manager. “They come into a bare base environment, have to set up their own tents, in and out process through [Personal Support for Contingency Operations], and they have to operate and work on their [mission essential task list] for their wartime taskings based on what their [unit task code] states.”

Three Dover Air Force Reserve EOD technicians traveled to Wisconsin to take part in Patriot Warrior. They joined other EOD members from the 914th CES, 442nd CES, and 452nd CES.

‘They try to break up the teams,” said Tech. Sgt. John Nelson, EOD technician with the 512th CES. “They split us up so that way we can get some cross talk in. It gives us the opportunity to learn what other people have found successful and failures that other people have had as well, so we can learn to avoid those. It just helps us become better EOD technicians.”

One of Nelson’s training scenarios was disarming a suicide-vest that was strapped to an ‘abducted’ Airman.

“That operation consists of essentially calming the subject and myself being a team chief, I have to approach and render the device safe and dispose of it once we get her secured and in a safe place,” said Nelson. “You don’t train on it very often, it’s kind of an infrequent occurrence, so actually getting the opportunity to do it is good. Also, that’s a person’s life that is at risk and in your hands, so being able to calm that person down, and work methodically and clearly and get her safe in a fast, expedient manner is good for everybody that way we can get her home.”

This lane was different than normal because rather than working on a manikin, the EOD team was working with Airman 1st Class Ladoris Gooden, the roleplaying Airman.

“I know it’s fake, but I was extremely nervous,” said Gooden, who’s a customer support PERSCO team member from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. “Sgt. Nelson, he approached me and I was nervous as first, but once he got close to me, made me feel comfortable and asked questions and went throughout the process as he was trying to find any type of explosives, he knew what he was doing.”

EOD technicians were not the only Dover Airmen there; other members of the 512th CES were also taking part in the exercise. Firefighters worked on extinguishing fires and runway operations while emergency management Airmen trained with the Army’s 340th Chemical Company.

“As part of Patriot Warrior, our primary mission is to maintain safety of the airstrip,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Castineiras, 512th CES crew chief. “We’ve done structural fires, rescue exercises, drafting exercises and pumping operations. Me and my crew specifically, we’ve done a lot of driving training in the crash rescue trucks which are different from the structural ones. Those are the ones that respond to the airport environment.”

Their primary mission still allowed for additional training to take place that they cannot complete at their home station and just like the EOD teams, the firefighters came from multiple units to make one team.

“Always learning something from different people, especially around here,” said Senior Airman Ian Gonzalez, 512th CES firefighter. “You have different units from different places. You get to learn, you get to train on it and I believe that is the best part about [Patriot Warrior].”

“I got to actually do what my job title is, crew chief,” said Castineiras. “As a Staff Sgt., if I get deployed, I’m going to be in charge of troops and in this exercise I had the opportunity of actually crewing a truck and also providing them with training. I have a crew of young Airmen that are eager to learn, they want to learn, and it makes it fun for me as a Staff Sgt. to provide them with training. Also learning from them because the majority of Senior Airmen and Airmen 1st Classes we have in the Air Force as firefighters are firefighters on the outside, so you are also learning from them at the same time you are training.”

While the firefighters were training with other Air Force firefighters, emergency management Airmen were participating in cross-branch training as they worked with the Army across base.

“We’ve been going out on their missions, reconnaissance and decontamination missions, we also have a biological mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Lafreniere, NCO in charge of the emergency management flight at Homestead Air Reserve Base. “We’ve been integrated with them and we’re going out to see how they do business and showing them some tips and tricks that we know and showing them a little bit about what we do as emergency managers and [chemical, biological, radiological, radiation] mostly.”

This is Staff Sgt. Ian King’s first time interacting with the Army in this type of environment. He has conducted radiation response training with Soldiers and Marines before, but this is his the first time performing in a joint-field condition environment.

Patriot Warrior allows our service members to share their strengths within their respective career fields with Airmen from other bases. 512th members are also able to expand their knowledge base and learn from the successes other unit's best practices.

“You never know when you get deployed, you could be with the Army and they do things a little different than the Air Force,” said King. “You always want to take away their good points and add our good kind of meet in the middle and you have the best process when you do that.”