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Nebraska Airmen support 59th Presidential Inauguration in D.C.

  • Published

LINCOLN, Neb.- The 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard, supported the 59th Presidential Inauguration, Dec. 27, 2020 - Feb. 8, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Airmen provided religious, administrative, food service, aerial transportation, communications and security support as part of combined national efforts for the inauguration. The largest muscle movement for the 155th ARW included transporting approximately 300 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen – and their equipment – to the national capital region for the overall inaugural support mission.

“Our jets were pretty valuable to getting the troops there on time because of the large amounts of weapons, body armor, clothing and equipment they required,” said Maj. Tyler Piening, chief of aircrew training, 155th Air Refueling Wing.

Piening, who piloted a KC-135R Stratotanker on multiple flights between Nebraska and Washington D.C., said the overall mission required a lot of planning and organization in a short amount of time, and the response by the 155th ARW showed the character of Airmen in Nebraska.

“The way we were able to execute the mission so efficiently just shows the quality of Airmen that we have on the Nebraska Air National Guard base,” Piening said. “They stepped up 100 percent voluntary in nature and completed the mission on short notice almost flawlessly.”

Once on the ground in D.C., Airmen supporting the inauguration were spread out across the city, completing missions related to their skill sets.

Airman 1st Class Matthew Curran, a radio frequency transmissions specialist, said this was his first-ever deployment, and while he was nervous, it provided him many new learning experiences.

“Once I got into the groove of things the nervousness went away,” Curran said. “It broadened my view of things in the military. There was continuous updates to the communication plan, adding more channels and running 24 hour operations. Without us, there would be more confusion.”

Curran said the experience gave him a greater sense of how his job plays a role into the whole mission, understanding how his position helps bridge the gap in communication while setting up, preserving and repairing a wide array of communication devices.

Senior Airmen Mike Mendick, 155th Security Forces Operations, said the number of troops supporting the event was something he had never seen before.

“It was definitely the largest operation we have ever been a part of and being joint operations was interesting as well,” Mendick said. “Working in a large organization like that with 25,000 troops is something a lot of people do not get to see.”

Mendick looked at the opportunity like any other day on the job thanks to all his past training and experiences.

“That’s something we train for a lot at security forces,” Mendick said, referring to security procedures and possible riot control. Mendick also assisted with support to law enforcement in Lincoln this past summer, and said he felt the 155th Airmen distinguished themselves by their poise and professionalism on the streets in D.C.

“You could tell a difference between everyone and the 155th,” Mendick said. “We had several instances where people from other units came up to Airmen from the 155th and congratulated them on their professionalism and adaptability.”

This was the third consecutive presidential inauguration the 155th Air Refueling Wing supported.