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AETC recognizes 62nd AS as top ops squadron

A C-130J flies overhead.

A C-130J from the 314th Airlift Wing flies over Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas during the fly-in exercise, March 15, 2019. Eight C-130J units from around the globe came together to enhance mobility partnerships across the C-130J enterprise during the second-annual C-130J fly-in at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 9-16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The 62nd Airlift Squadron received Air Education and Training Command’s Top Operations Squadron for 2018 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, earlier this year.

This award is given to squadrons for exceptional execution of the flying training mission. However, the 62nd AS also focused, during this time, on what it means to develop students not just as operations, but as Airmen, too.

“A whole new generation of Airmen is coming through our doors, pushing us to adapt our instruction to sharpen the competitive edge of strategic and tactical combat airlift while creating a teamwork and wingmanship mentality in each individual Airman,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shane Saum, 62nd AS director of operations.

Some difficulties flying squadrons face include being unable to complete their flight hours due to weather conditions or maintenance. The 62nd AS found ways around those hurdles to further develop Airmen with the competencies and skillsets needed to do the combat airlift mission in a contested environment, leading them down the path toward the award.

Regardless of home station flight conditions, instructors and students flew to other locations such as Louisiana and Tennessee to complete more than enough flight hours.

“We switch aircraft if one has a maintenance issue and go to one of our other flight locations to make sure we complete our flight hours,” Saum said. “Never have we flown more hours than we have this last year. That increase in operations and deliberate training contributed to winning us this award.”

The 62nd AS instructed 4,000 sorties, flew over 11,000 hours, graduated about 330 students to seven different major commands and four international students to their respective country. This Increase in flight hours for student loadmasters and pilots necessarily required more focus on safety in flight, and the 62nd AS managed to prevent hard landings and other potentially injury-causing events in 2018.

“The things we do are inherently dangerous,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. CJ Campbell, 62nd AS operations superintendent. “As instructors, we pride ourselves on a year of flying safely.”

Instructors have capitalized on their increased flying hours to give students more experience flying while also recruiting potential students. The 62nd AS has conducted recruiting missions to numerous colleges in Florida, Virginia and many other states. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from those colleges received an incentive flight by the 62nd AS, and new Airmen enlisted in the back of a C-130J as well.

“There’re a lot of things we are trying to do to promote ‘Herk Nation,’ like showing incoming Airmen what it’s like to be part of this kind of Air Force family” Saum said. “Our moto is ‘Herk Nation Starts Here’ because we get that initial phase with the new Airmen who are beginning their C-130J career.”

“We’re doing things right,” Campbell said. “Instead of just going down a checklist and hitting every box, we went above and beyond to ensure mobility Airmen are ready for any operation they’re assigned to after coming through our doors. We are already doing a cool job, but when you get recognized for it, that takes our motivation to a whole new level to grow and hopefully get recognized again and again.”

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