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NEWS | July 11, 2024

Utah Air National Guard Conducts Weapons Training Exercise

By Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Allmaras, 124th Fighter Wing

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah - Airmen from the 124th Fighter Wing, Gowen Field, participated in a weapons system evaluation program exercise at Hill Air Force Base.

The June 6-14 program was designed to test the employment of various live munitions. It requires the efforts of various Air Force specialty codes but focuses on the building, loading and employment of these munitions.

The use of lethal force requires proficiency from everyone involved.

“This is a weapons training exercise,” said Staff Sgt. Alyssa Johnson, an aircraft armament systems technician with the 124th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “The focus is on how ammo builds munitions, how weapons loads them, and how the pilots drop them. The inspectors are making sure we are proficient at what we do.”

The exercise was a critical training event for Idaho Air Guardsmen.

“We don’t get a lot of opportunities like this in the Idaho Guard because of where we’re stationed,” said Johnson. “Working with live munitions is critical for us.”

WSEP provides Airmen with challenges and opportunities.

“This has been a mini deployment,” said Tech. Sgt. Charles Updegraff, the senior munitions inspector for the 124th Munitions Flight. “We’ve worked long days and in a location with limited access to the equipment we normally have at home, challenging how we normally work.”

Updegraff said working through challenges prepares Airmen for real deployments, allowing younger Airmen to demonstrate their job proficiency and think on their feet in a new and fast-paced environment.

Ammo Airmen weren’t the only ones to experience unique training opportunities.

“We had to drive all the way to the Dugway Proving Ground due to an issue with a stuck munition,” said Johnson. “You always hope that things go well, but sometimes things don’t. I was able to train on what we might experience when deployed, making sure that my crews and pilots are safe.”

Beyond the individual shop aspect of WSEP, ammo and weapons Airmen must work together to provide warheads for pilots.

“Here things are back-to-back and go, go, go,” said Johnson. “When we go downrange, ammo builds munitions, we load them, and the pilots drop them. This training prepares all of us to be successful.”

Johnson said embracing the good and bad and focusing on the mission with peers is amazing.

“We all get to build off each other’s energy and be able to build each other up,“ he said. “We’re exhausted, yes. We’re tired, but we help each other out. So that way, we’re all good in the end.”

Ultimately, that is the most important takeaway when preparing for a future fight, working together, building each other up, and completing the mission.



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