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NEWS | Dec. 26, 2023

Oregon Air Guard, Germany Participate in Officer Exchange

By Steven Conklin, 142nd Wing

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Military Reserve Exchange Program has been strengthening international relationships as a program for NATO servicemembers to build cultural understanding and regional expertise. For German reserve officers, it’s a rare opportunity to engage with the U.S. armed forces, as only 14 are selected annually to travel here for the program.

This year, Capt. Philipp Lukas of the German Reserve Air Force was selected to shadow the 142nd Wing at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Oregon.

“It is an honor and a really great pleasure to be here for two weeks, part of a flying wing from the National Guard,” said Lucas.

The primary purpose of the MREP program is to provide National Guard and Reserve participants training associated with their mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with military members of the host nation.

Lukas, a human resource officer with the German military, noted the human element of the 142nd Wing.

“I’m very impressed by the very strong team spirit and the professionalism with which you do your processes and procedures,” said Lucas. “We have a lot of the same procedures, but I'm very impressed by the feeling of unity.”

The MREP only provides a short time for officers to absorb all they can to bring back to their home units, but Lukas said certain themes stood out to him. “Only two weeks, but the perspective and the feeling. A better understanding about how you think about the wing and the tasks and the future.”

In exchange for Lukas, the 142nd Wing sent Capt. Dewayne Pittman of the 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31, Nörvenich Air Base, Germany. Pittman, the flight commander for the 142nd AMXS flight line, said he gained new experiences during his trip overseas.

“I had the privilege of working alongside our allies, exchanging knowledge, and gaining insights into their operations,” said Pittman. “They allowed me to fly the Eurofighter in their simulator and take part in their briefs. They went above and beyond to share their maintenance practices as well as give me guided tours of their munitions facilities.”

For these two officers, the program was also a time for them to bond. 

“Hosting Captain Lukas was awesome! My goal was to show him the base but it grew to much more,” said Pittman. “I showed him the Portland culture and took him to all of the tourist traps. Through those experiences, we were able to share commonalities and difficulties in both our military and civilian careers. We got some great lessons learned and we still communicate to this day.”

In addition to sharing tactics of the trade to bring back to their services, the two officers built strong bonds.

“I think the coolest thing was all of the people I met,” stated Lukas. “They gave me a really good welcome and I felt integrated. After two weeks, I go through the base and people say, ‘Hi Lukas, nice that you are here,‘ or ‘Hi Philipp.’ That’s my highlight.”

Pittman agreed. 

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my time spent in Germany was the relationships I formed with the German military and the local community,” he said. “Collaborating on projects and celebrating social events created strong bonds and fostered a sense of unity despite our cultural differences.”



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