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Story Last modified at 5:27 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Alaska Air Guard flies to Alabama for real-world training
Group spending 10 days on medical, service mission



Tech. Sgt. Brett Brandemuhl, left, a loadmaster from the 144th Airlift Squadron, briefs members of the Alaska Air National Guard 176th Wing on C-130 air safety protocols before the group takes off for Hayneville, Ala. on May 1. The members, a mixed group of about 30, are from the wing's Medical Group, Civil Engineer Squadron, and the Sustainment Services Element, and are on a 10-day Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission to Hayneville.
Photo by Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt N. Alicia Goldberger

Twenty-five airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group arrived in Hayneville, Ala. this week to provide medical assistance.

The group will be offering optometry, dental, medical and pharmaceutical services to residents of the area, located approximately 20 miles southwest of Montgomery. They arrived May 1 and will spend 10 days.

A handful of airmen from diverse support units accompanied the medical group to work service projects in the town, including work on a serious, ongoing municipal plumbing problem.

The mission, officially titled "Town of Hayneville 2011," is part of a nationwide program called Innovative Readiness Training (IRT). Through this program, run by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, communities and federally recognized charities can apply for support from trained Guard and Reserve units.

The program is meant to provide participants with readiness training, while leaving a lasting effect on communities.

"We are very pleased and excited to be able to serve the people of Alabama," said Lt. Col. Sherolyn Lange, chief nurse of the 176th Medical Group and operations commander of the mission. "Our people need this training, and by participating in this mission, we can accomplish our training, while at the same time lending a helping hand in a part of the country that's been very hard hit lately."

Alabama was ravaged by an historic tornado outbreak on April 27.

The Alaska Air National Guard medical group members traveled to Alabama with nine other members of the Alaska Air National Guard and one active-duty medical technician. They are working alongside approximately 35 comrades from other military services, including the Marine Corps and Navy reservists, as well as members of the active-duty Army, Navy and Air Force from around the country.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.