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Operation Arizona Sunrise

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Noah J. Tancer
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The dark blue sky begins to lighten. The dawning light reveals hazy clouds passing lazily on the breeze, skiing down from snowy mountaintops and out across the open planes. An out-of-season chill clings to the air. The sun brings some warmth as the mountainous peaks guide its way into the sky, all painting the backdrop for the beginning of Operation Arizona Sunrise.

The 757th Airlift Squadron held its annual flyaway in Southern Arizona, Jan. 24–30, 2021, supported by the 910th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Under a distributed operations concept, five C-130H Hercules aircraft and more than 100 Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing were split between two mission cells located in Tucson and Yuma, Arizona.

The main training focuses were joint airborne/air transportability training through high-altitude low open jump routes more than 15,000 feet above the ground at Yuma and low-fly tactical routes with simulation cargo drops in Tucson. Then, an aircraft from each location would meet in the air above the mountains each day for two-ship flight formations.

Capt. Nick Bargiband is the chief of operations assigned to the 910th Operations Support Squadron and served as one of two mission commanders for the operation.

"This mission, we dropped a variety of paratrooper teams," said Bargiband. "It's a hard training for us to stay current on with Northeast Ohio's naturally low cloud ceilings, let alone the winter temperatures this time of year.

Arizona wasn't only chosen for its clear skies and warm weather, but for its geological difference from the landscape around Youngstown Air Reserve Station where the unit typically trains.

"Southwest Arizona provides the perfect environment to practice real-world tactical maneuvering taking advantage of the natural terrain features," said Maj. Jonathan Blackann the second mission commander and a flight commander assigned to the 757th AS. "This is something we just don't get to do anywhere near the home station."

Flying and performing tactical sorties over varied terrain helps 910th Airmen remain “Combat ready NOW... for tomorrow's fight!” as the wing’s mission statement goes.