JULY 12, 2022 – As the weather finally warmed up in Minnesota, three members of the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Contingency Response Flight (CRF) volunteered to spend most of May on the Kangerlussuaq Ice Cap, Greenland.
Polar Reach, an international exercise hosted by the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, incorporated members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and 133rd CRF.
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jeremiah Wickenhauser, Master Sgt. Cody Hallas and Tech. sergeant. Brian Shuey participated in a 17-day training exercise. They trained with the elite Polar Camp Skiway Team (PCST) members of the 109th Airlift Wing and their Ski Landing Zone Control (SLACO) officers.
Both teams trained in all aspects of arctic operations, including base camp construction, arctic first aid, snowmobile airway clearing, heating installation, construction latrines and work-rest cycles.
“This exercise has proven to be an excellent opportunity to expand Arctic partnerships within the Air Force National Guard and with our Canadian allies,” Wickenhauser said.
“The 133rd CRF is the Air National Guard’s premier Arctic emergency response team, and this training helps us fulfill that designation.”
Over the past two years, COVID-19 has made opportunities like this difficult to realize and continues to pose challenges. The day before the exercise began, several members of the PCST tested positive and were unable to participate.
“Despite a difficult hand and the loss of some participants due to COVID-19 restrictions, the work ethic and professionalism of the members of 133rd CRF facilitated the achievement of many of our objectives,” said Sergeant – chief of the US Air Force. Logan Brennan, camp manager, PCST NCO in charge of the 109th Airlift Wing.
“After seeing how the 133rd CRF fared, I am confident this is a partnership with a strong future.”
Despite the challenges, collaboration and integration with other units has enhanced resilience and strengthened relationships for all involved in Polar Reach.
“The 133rd CRF has proven its exceptional ability to adapt and overcome in any Arctic environment,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matt Sala, 109th Airlift Wing, officer in charge of PCST and SLACO. “This training opportunity helped solidify the partnership between the 109th Airlift Wing and the 133rd CRF for future efforts in the Arctic.”
Story by Tech. sergeant. Amy Lovgren
133rd Airlift Wing