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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2023

New York Air Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing Launches STEM Camp

By Staff Sgt. Sean Madden, 106th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. - Twenty-four children of Airmen assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing got a first-hand look at how the Air Force uses science, technology, engineering and math during a special camp program Aug. 3-6 at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base.

The boys and girls, ranging from seventh graders to high school seniors, were taking part in the first Department of Defense STEM Camp hosted by the 106th Rescue Wing.

The DOD-funded program encourages community engagement with the military while providing educational programs and activities to interest kids in STEM programs.

During the four days, the students learned how to load cargo on an HC-130 Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, how damaged aircraft are repaired, and how the wing communicates and responds to humanitarian crises.

Students got to fly on an HC-130 Combat King II and HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters.

The camp was a pilot program, according to Col. Glyn Weir, commander of the wing’s mission support group, who planned the event.

He said the plan is to invite students from local high schools and vocational schools and military kids.

The program curriculum centered around the capabilities of the 106th and how the wing would respond to a crisis.

The students were briefed on a catastrophic earthquake scenario in Estonia and asked to plan and execute a humanitarian response. 

Weir said students had to generate aircraft load plans, calculate weight and balance, and learn about other related technologies.

On Day 2, the students were told they were in Estonia and introduced to the maintenance section of the unit and an unforeseen obstacle to accomplishing their mission.

The students were taught how to respond to and repair a birdstrike, according to Master Sgt. Joseph D’Esposito, the fabrication supervisor for the 106th Maintenance Squadron and a STEM Camp instructor.

The campers also inspected an aircraft engine with a borescope camera, which can be inserted in areas difficult to reach for visual inspection.

At the communications flight of the 106th Rescue Wing, students disassembled decommissioned computers, erased hard drives for secure disposal and learned how a computer network is kept secure.

Colin Fitzgerald, 16, said it was interesting to see the complexity involved in processes that otherwise seemed simple.

While the equipment impressed the campers, the way every Airman played a role was impressive, too, said 15-year-old Paige Rittberg.

“It’s everyone, “ she said. “They all connect even if they’re not in the same building.”

On the third day, students were briefed about landmarks and obstructions that could interfere with helicopter operations before a scenario in which they coordinated the helicopter rescue of injured people.

“The students had no idea what was in store for them in the tactical operations exercise,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Graziano, 106th Communications Flight. “They definitely rose to that occasion and understood the importance of sharing information and communication and the most important thing we do, which is save lives.” 



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