Pilot emerges in MSG

  • Published
  • By Capt. James Knauss
  • 74 Fighter Squadron

This past Thursday, Feb. 2, I had the pleasure of touring the different sections of the 23d Mission Support Group here at Moody Air Force Base. I will have to admit, my impression of the MSG consisted of the gym, the dining hall, and the annoying splash screens that show up every time I log onto my computer telling me about the next Moody event. However, to my surprise, my impression changed rapidly.

The MSG commander, Col. Susan Riordan-Smith, set the tone early by giving us an overview of what we were about to see. She went into detail on how her group was involved in pretty much every action on the base that was not providing medical service or flying aircraft. My initial thought was, “so what else is there?” That was about to change very quickly.

Our first event was to proceed to the other side of base to take place in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal demonstration. We were briefed by the sharp individuals in that flight and I even got to drive their robot. Next we went to contracting and were let behind the curtain to see what goes on for every purchase on the base, from the robot I drove to stocking Mission Lake with fish. We then proceeded to the dining facility to prepare the next day’s meal and I actually got to make a batch of chili garlic baked chicken. I am sure that it will be the top seller once it hits the line.

Then we were taken to the military working dog facility where I made my biggest mistake for that day. They asked for volunteers to dress up in the bite suit and demonstrate the expertise of the dogs to take down a suspect. Of course I had to live up to my fighter pilot ego and volunteer. My advice to anyone who gets this opportunity in the future would be to respectfully decline. The professional attitude and skill of both the dogs and their handlers proved to be a crushing force that made me think to myself, “I’m glad I’ve never done anything in my life to warrant this punishment.”

The rest of the day comprised of lunch at the dining facility, a tour through the communications squadron, and a petroleum oils and lubricants survey. At each place, we witnessed a professional demeanor combined with intense precision of skill. This was most evident in the latter part of the day when we watched the POL troops demonstrate their ability to conduct forward air refueling point operations. They proved to us how their newest team members could run a gas hose and fire extinguisher 300 yards, press out the fuel from the line, and wrap it all back up and package it the same distance in under nine minutes. They asked for volunteers to give it a shot, to which I replied that I had learned my lesson for the day in agreeing to try and execute skills for which I had not been trained.

As with every Emerge Moody experience I’ve been a part of, the Airmen were extremely skillful in their work, very humble and engaging, and exhibited an irreplaceable pride about what they do. It is still amazing to me the responsibilities we place on 18 to 20-year-old young men and women and the expertise with which they execute their duties. The regretful part of the day is we saw only a small fraction of what the MSG actually does. I look forward to the rest of the program and seeing how we all fit into the huge operation that is ATTACK…RESCUE…PREVAIL.