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NEWS | April 16, 2010

Multi-state effort supports West African partner

By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton Michigan National Guard

ACCRA, Ghana, - Air National Guardsmen from three states are working together to support a new partnership with the west African nation of Ghana.

A detachment of Airmen from the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Civil Engineering Squadron arrived here on April 8 to work on a construction project here at the Acota air base.

They worked alongside a contingent of Guardsmen from the North Dakota Air National Guard, who are at the worksite managing the overall project.

After the Michigan CES team works at the site for about two weeks, a similar team from North Dakota will pick up where Michigan left off.

"Working with our Ghana partners is a way to build up goodwill and camaraderie between the two nations," said Maj. John Gibbs, the base civil engineer with North Dakota's Civil Engineering Squadron from the 119th Fighter Wing.

The Michigan Guardsmen were transported to Ghana by a KC-135 Stratotanker operated by the 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard. The Kansas Coyotes flew with an additional crew to accommodate the long flight from Selfridge to the Lajes Field in the Azores Islands in the mid-Atlantic Ocean and then on to Ghana.

For most of the Guardsmen involved, arriving in Ghana marked a first visit to the African continent.

"It was a new experience for us," said Senior Master Sgt. Doug Copeland, one of three Kansas Guardsmen, who served as crew chiefs for the flight to Ghana. "No one on our crew had ever landed in Africa before."

The mission to Ghana is a part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program which pairs state National Guards with emerging nations to help support stable governments and build relations between the two nations.

Ghana recently became a partner with North Dakota. Michigan is establishing a partnership with Liberia, a neighboring nation to Ghana. The Michigan Guard has also enjoyed a long partnership with Latvia in eastern Europe.