908th Airlift Wing 2023 in Review

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The 908th Airlift Wing had a unique year in 2023 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

The wing hit the ground running during the month of January, starting with the 25th Aerial Port Squadron welcoming a C-5 from Travis Air Force Base, California, on Friday Jan. 6, 2023, for the Unit Training Assembly weekend. The C-5 was requested for members to train on as the 908th no longer has C-130s due to the wing’s mission change to the MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter Formal Training Unit. 25th APS members trained on the C-5 with its crew until its departure Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday Jan. 7, the wing welcomed Lt. Col. Tyisha Owens as the new 908th Force Support Squadron commander during an assumption of command ceremony.

Then, on Sunday Jan. 8, the wing welcomed another new commander to its ranks, but this time the member wasn’t new to the unit. Lt. Col. Stuart Martin, 908th Maintenance Group commander, bestowed command of the 908th Maintenance Squadron to Capt. Toderick Burks, formally the operations officer for the 908th MXS during an assumption of command ceremony.

The third week of the month saw 908th members showcasing one of their Department of Defense leading ideas, a Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant certification for service members. Members from the FAA’s Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council were holding a meeting in Montgomery, Alabama when they were able to meet with 908th members and Community College of the Air Force members to see the strides the 908th has made in their program.

The last week of the month saw 908th maintainers look to industry to accelerate change and improve readiness by beginning to send members to for a minimum of 30 days each to learn tactics, techniques, procedures, and best practices, on how to effectively maintain AW-139s, the civilian variant of the MH-139A Grey Wolf, from the Chevron Corporation in Picayune, Mississippi.

The month closed out with then Air Force Reserve Command’s Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White holding a meet and greet with 908th enlisted members. White discussed Air Force Reserve Command’s priorities and answered questions from the Airmen.

The month of February saw the wing highlight its outstanding unit members with the announcement of its annual award winners.

The 908th’s senior leaders from every squadron, group and the wing started the month of March away from home conducting some very important business.

From March 1 to 3, 2023, members attended the 22nd Air Force’s Senior Leader Summit in Atlanta. At the summit, members got a chance to see the new 22nd Air Force Mission Video, created by Senior Airman Juliana Todd, 908th public affairs specialist.

The summit was also a chance for members to say farewell to outgoing 22nd Air Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Bret Larson, before he retired on March 4.

One the biggest events in recent 908th history happened on March 3, 2023, when the U.S. Air Force reached a positive Milestone C decision, which began the start of the limited rate initial production for the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter.

Following the UTA, from March 13 to 17, 2023, the wing hosted its fourth SATAF or sight activation task force since January 2021, ran by Air Force Reserve Command. The SATAF is a chance to get key players in the wing’s conversion to the MH-139A Grey Wolf training unit all together to focus on 908th and Maxwell specific items. The SATAF brought together members from the Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Material Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force District of Washington, 22nd Air Force and Boeing.

On March 15, 2023, Air Force Reserve Command announced the winners of their 2022 Media Contest, with the 908th Public Affairs office taking home top honors in nine of 29 categories, besting all other wings as the next closest unit was the 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, who took home four awards. Senior Airman Juliana Todd took home five awards leading the entire command.

Also, during the month of March, the 908th saw the first aircrew members qualify as basic helicopter pilot and special mission aviator instructors.

April saw the wing celebrate a significant anniversary; April 8 was the one-year mark of the last of the wing’s C-130s leaving Maxwell as part of the wing’s divestiture in order to focus on the transition to becoming the formal training unit for the MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter.

The wing started the month of May having approximately 50 members of the 908th Civil Engineer Squadron return from a week of annual tour training at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, for another week of training.

The third week of May saw members of the 908th public affairs office participate in the Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs Symposium, where attendees learned about topics such as new information warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures, along with new potential ways to use artificial intelligence ethically for content creation and management.

The month of June saw the wing remember some key events in its history while also welcoming a key leader to the unit.

The 908th welcomed its new Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kristen Maloney. Maloney has more than 25 years of service and joined the wing after her last assignment as the senior enlisted leader for the 934th Mission Support Group at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota.

On June 10, the wing remembered a critical event that has helped shape all the changes it is currently going through. On June 10, 2020, then Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett, selected Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, as the candidate base and reasonable alternative for the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter Formal Training Unit.

Ten days later the wing remembered that on June 20, 2021, a 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron team evacuated Bagram Airfield and moved to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. They were some of the last medical personnel at Bagram when the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in-activated and the base closed.

On June 27, the wing celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of the strategic basing decision that certified Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, as the host for the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter formal training unit.

On Sunday July 9, the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron held an assumption of command ceremony for newly promoted Maj. William T. Staub.

Also, during the month of July, the wing saw several construction and renovation projects begin in preparation for its new mission.

The 908th started the month of August with the Wing Commander, Col. Craig Drescher, and the Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kristen Maloney, both attending the Air Force Reserve Command Wing Commander and Command Chief conference in Dallas, Texas.

Coincidently, as two thirds of the wing’s command team was at the AFRC conference, the wing’s new Deputy Commander, Col. Michael Bennett, had his first day in the new position Wednesday August 2, 2023. Bennett joined the wing from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he was the Deputy Commander for the 445th Mission Support Group.

Also in August, the wing formalized initial agreements with the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Novosel, formally Fort Rucker, Alabama, to utilize existing helicopter landing zones for MH-139A Grey Wolf training.

September was a busy month for the unit as it changed a couple of leaders and welcomed its parent organization for a visit.

On Sept. 9, 2023, the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron had a change of command ceremony which saw the unit say farewell to outgoing commander, Col. Stephen Secraw, and welcome new incoming commander, Col. Katie Nason. Immediately following that ceremony, Secraw had a retirement ceremony closing his military career.

Then, later that day, the 908th hosted a town hall featuring the 22nd Air Force Command Team, consisting of Commander, Brig. Gen. Melissa Coburn, and Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Chin Cox.

Following the town hall, the wing then had a change of command ceremony which saw the wing say farewell to outgoing commander, Col. Craig W. Drescher, and welcome new incoming commander, Col. Christopher K. Lacouture, as the 27th commander of the 908th Airlift Wing.

Then, approximately 30 minutes after the change of command ceremony, Drescher closed his 34-year military career with a retirement ceremony.

On Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, the wing finished a weeklong partnership with the U.S. Army’s Montgomery Recruiting Battalion and the U.S. Army Golden Knights demonstration parachute team.

The month of October saw the first of the wing’s pilots qualify specifically on the MH-139A Grey Wolf in Lafayette, Louisiana and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, the wing welcomed Col. Donna Whittaker to the unit as she assumed command of the 908th Mission Support Group during a ceremony at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Following the assumption of command ceremony, Wing Commander, Col. Christopher K. Lacouture, held his first wing commanders call since taking command of the unit during the September unit training assembly.

On Saturday Nov. 4, the wing saw long-time member Lt. Col. Derek Shehee assume command of the 357th Airlift Squadron.

On Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, the wing celebrated the three-year anniversary of then Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Barbara Barrett, announcing that Maxwell AFB was selected as the location to host the MH-139A Formal Training Unit.

Also in November, the wing saw direct funding approved to lease a civilian AW-139 to enhance training for MH-139A aircrew.

The 908th closed 2023 strong, finishing December with a 6-year high in the wing’s Individual Medical Readiness, while also completing airfield modifications for the MH-139A Grey Wolf.

Throughout the year, the wing welcomed more than 125 new members to its ranks and saw nearly 200 members earn promotions.