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Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines complete Tropic Koa ACE

Hawgs in Hawaii

Airmen assigned to the 442d Fighter Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, secure and check A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft after arriving Feb. 11, 2019, at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The unit is participating in various joint training exercises in Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Davis)

Hawgs in Hawaii

A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 442d Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., go through maintenance checks Feb. 12, 2019, at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The unit is participating in joint training exercises in Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Davis)

442 FW conducts training to maintain readiness

U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., taxi down the runway during a training exercise Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 22, 2019. The unit will be participating in various training exercises across the Hawaiian islands, working alongside U.S. Marine Corps units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

442 FW conducts training to maintain readiness

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Miller, 358th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, talks with Maj. John Tice, 303rd Fighter Squadron pilot, prior to a low-altitude flight at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 22, 2019. The unit will be participating in various training exercises across the Hawaiian islands, working alongside U.S. Marine Corps units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

442 FW Defender

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Brown, 442d Security Forces Member with the 442d Fighter Wing in Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., poses for a portrait on the flightline at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 25, 2019. Twenty-one security forces members with the 442 FW have been providing 24/7 security as the unit participates in training exercises across the Hawaiian islands, working alongside U.S. Marine Corps units. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

442d Fighter Wing Defenders in Hawaii

Senior Airman Seth Hammond, a defender with the 442d Security Forces Squadron, stands watch over an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft Feb. 25, 2019, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The 442d SFS provided 24-hour security on the flightline during Exercise Tropical KOA ACE. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Jennings)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii

1st Lt. Josh Burress, a pilot with the 358th Fighter Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., signals to rescuers during a combat search and rescue exercise Feb. 26, 2019, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The exercise featured A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft working with MV-22B tiltrotor helicopters to locate and rescue Burress, who was simulating that his aircraft went down in hostile territory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Jennings)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii

U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment load U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Burress, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., onto an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor helicopter with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 during a downed aircraft scenario at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The training consisted of recovery of a simulated downed aircraft pilot in a simulated hostile location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Jennings)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii

U.S. Marine Corps HM Zachary Doyle with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment evaluates 1st Lt. Josh Burress, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., during a simulated downed aircraft scenario at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The marines simulated immediate medical attention to ensure the safe evacuation of the isolated member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Jennings)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii
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U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment set up a security perimeter after an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor helicopter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 drops them off at Landing Zone 216 to recover a simulated downed aircraft pilot during combat search and rescue training at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The CSAR training enhanced joint service crisis response capabilities to include locating, communicating, providing medical attention and recovering the isolated member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Jennings)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii
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U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment transport U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Burress, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., to an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor helicopter with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 during a downed aircraft scenario at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The training consisted of recovery of a simulated downed aircraft pilot in a simulated hostile location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii
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An MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor helicopter with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 lands at Landing Zone 216 to recover a simulated downed aircraft pilot during a combat search and rescue training at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The CSAR training enhanced joint service crisis response capabilities to include locating, communicating, providing medical attention and recovering the isolated member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

Reserve Citizen Airmen, Marines conduct CSAR training in Hawaii
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U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Burress, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., uses a Combat Survivor Evader Locator to communicate with search and rescue personnel during a combat search and rescue training at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 26, 2019. The training consisted of recovery of a simulated downed aircraft pilot in a simulated hostile location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Missy Sterling)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

More than 270 Reserve Citizen Airmen and active-duty members return from the 442d Fighter Wing led exercise Tropic Koa ACE, a three-week joint readiness training held Feb. 11 - March 2 at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“We trained to the inherent challenges of deploying a large footprint to a bare base operation,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Chappel, 442d Operations Group Chief of Standardization/Evaluation. “It also provided us great exposure to the unique environments of the Pacific region.”

The Airmen participated in joint training exercises with multiple Marine units across the Hawaiian Islands, providing the 442d its first ever unit training experience with Marine rotary wing assets.

Participating units included the 442 FW’s active-duty associate, the 358th Fighter Squadron and the Wing’s geographically separated unit, the 476th Fighter Group, stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. An additional two A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft pilots assigned to the 47th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., also contributed their operational expertise to the exercise.

Many different career fields from the 442d supported the mission as well. The command post personnel established a communications system that rivaled most bare base operations, Chappell said. On the flightline, security forces members kept 24-hour accountability of the aircraft.  

The exercise focused on agile combat employment (ACE) and tested Airmen’s ability to operate out of an austere location with partner forces to accomplish close air support, combat search and rescue (CSAR), and forward arming and refueling point (FARP) training.

“Throughout the exercise we worked not only with Marine ground crews but also the aviators,”  said Lt. Col. Rick Mitchell, 303 FS Director of Operations. “We were able to integrate forces in ways we don’t see at home station like having Marine forward air controllers directing A-10 airstrikes on targets that they find.”

Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper helicopter pilots assigned to the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 participated in close air support alongside A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. In addition, a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor helicopter with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 268 served as the primary asset to transport a simulated downed pilot in the CSAR exercise with the Airmen.

“Being able to work with the Marine Corps and integrate forces allows us to practice for combat operations,” said Mitchell. “Some of our younger pilots have never worked with a marine helicopter, so it provides valuable capabilities and tactics integration training for our pilots and the Marine pilots as well.”

In the combat search and rescue scenario, coordinated efforts from an HC-130J Combat King II assigned to the 71st Rescue Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga., with the Marine forces and 303 FS A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft pilots, resulted in a successful simulated tactical recovery of aircraft personnel. Ultimately, the simulated downed pilot made contact with the recovery forces who located the pilot, authenticated his identity, provided a medical evaluation, then transported the pilot to the Osprey to be airlifted out of the hostile zone. 

“We refined combat search and rescue tactics with the HC-130 asset,” said Lt. Col. Todd Riddle, 303rd FS Commander. “The HC-130 successfully executed the Airborne Mission Commander role by completing the initial electronic search and contact with the survivor. They also coordinated the assets that recovered the survivor while maintaining control of the airspace.”

Ground forces also played a big role in the exercise. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers with the Navy, Marines and Air Force and Joint Fires Observers with the Army enhanced their techniques during Tropic Koa ACE by directing maneuvers and communicating targets during training scenarios with the A-10s to complete tactical air controller evaluations.

Parts of the exercise required controllers to maintain command and control in a mountainous terrain in the midst of a thick canopy according to Maj. Aaron Moore, the assistant director of operations assigned to the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron, aligned with the 25th Infantry Division at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii.

“Essentially, our goal is to get in, get an aircraft on target quickly, employ munitions and get back out with both controllers and the aircraft,” said Moore. He coordinated all the learning objectives for the controllers during Tropic Koa.

During the three-week exercise, A-10 pilots logged 152 sorties and more than 350 flying hours, resulting in the successful accomplishment of numerous learning objectives and strengthening of crisis-response capabilities in the Pacific region.