Alaska air guardsmen use civilian skills on medical mission to Hawaii

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Halla
  • 176 WG
Forty-five Alaska-based military personnel drawn from Air and Army Guard units and the active-duty Air Force cared for medically-underserved Hawaiians June 4 to 12 on the Hawaiian Islands of Lanai, Maui and Molokai.

The Alaskans were among about 500 other military personnel from multiple components of the Air Force, Army and Navy serving six sites across four Hawaiian Islands as part of a joint training mission called TROPIC CARE 2013.

Many of the deployed tapped into civilian skills to assist with much-needed community-service work amid their training schedule. The community projects encompassed mechanical work, landscaping, carpentry and more.

Some of the contributions from the Alaska group, at times aided by other military members, included Lt. Col. Jay Fuller's veterinary services, Lt. Col. Mark Tucillo's first-aid class for local Boy Scouts, and a military physical-training class for young people led by Airman Ossie Quinovenva and Airman 1st Class Sean O'Brian.

"There's so much talent in the Guard and the Reserve that is beyond your AFSC [Air Force Specialty Code - job description]," said Col. Jerry Arends, the mission director.

Military members at other sites also performed community projects, such as the Ocean View site on the big island where a few automobile mechanics and a generator repair specialist assisted the local, disadvantaged community who largely rely on generators.

TROPIC CARE 2103 is a part of the Department of Defense's Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program. This program is designed to give military personnel, primarily members of medical and engineering units, real-world training at the same time as supporting historically underserved communities.

The Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group has participated in the IRT program at least since 2009. In 2011, a contingent from the 176 Medical Group led a two-week mission to central Alabama, opening a free clinic where they offered a wide range of medical, dental and public-health services. In 2012, another contingent from the 176th led ARCTIC CARE 2012, providing medical services for rural Alaskans alongside other units.