Story by A1C Kristine Gruwell on 03/12/2019Red, white and blue banners hung on light poles catch first-time visitors' and service members' eyes as they drive through a military installation gate. "Home of Combat Airlift," are the words painted across these banners, giving each person a glimpse of the common focus that unites the mission sets at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
Little Rock AFB is home to many different units including the 314th Airlift Wing, 189th AW, 913th Airlift Group, and the host, the 19th AW. Each of these units contribute to combat airlift, whether through training or operations, all using a model of the C-130. Little Rock AFB maximizes these synergistic relationships to meet contingency and emerging requirements providing tactical airlift where and when it's needed.
"There is no other base in the C-130 community that offers as much of the C-130 experience as Little Rock AFB," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Andrew "Bull" Miller, 61st Airlift Squadron director of operations. "That's why they call it the Home of Combat Airlift.'"
Between different C-130 models and the units who operate them, the traditions and the community are what unite Team Little Rock. According to Miller, since his birth at Little Rock AFB 35 years ago, the combat airlift lifestyle hasn't changed much, if at all.
Throughout his Air Force career, Miller has consistently come back to Little Rock AFB, from training as a young pilot to training others throughout the various units populating the base.
"What's awesome about Little Rock Air Force Base is there are so many facets to the C-130 community that are manifested here," Miller said. "Through the 19th AW side, to the 314th and the 189th, we touch the C-130 community from every possible aspect."
C-130 heritage flowed throughout Miller's veins seeing as his father was a C-130 navigator. After his graduation from the Reserve Officer Training Corps, he went through training to become a pilot. Miller was very excited to follow in his father's footsteps in being a crew member on a C-130E.
"Since the very beginning of my life, I have had a significant connection to the base, to the community and to the C-130 enterprise," Miller said.
Miller had the opportunity to train with the 314th AW when it was the host unit of Little Rock AFB. He went through the E- model schoolhouse as well as the C-130 Center of Excellence as a new pilot. This marked the beginning of an ongoing partnership between Miller's operational missions and his educational development throughout his career. He experienced exactly how Herk Nation starts at Little Rock AFB.
The first time Miller was assigned to the 19th AW was when the 61st AS was transitioning all aircraft to the J- model. The new C-130J was built differently and had a new crew construct. Though even after the transition was complete, the culture surrounding the C-130 hadn't changed.
Experiencing once again the training side of Little Rock AFB, Miller went to instructor pilot school at the 189th AW experiencing the Air National Guard. Miller said it was interesting to see how they do business compared to the 19th AW. He got to experience how the 189th AW completes their mission to train operationally ready pilot instructors which contributes to the overall combat airlift enterprise.
With this knowledge he gained from training at the 189th AW and 314th AW, Miller now leads the operations and Airmen within an airlift squadron at the 19th AW.
"It's not difficult to see that when people come through these programs and they come back, there's an influence from Little Rock that is more than just the individual units," Miller said. "They're more than just the names of the organizations. It's the C-130 community as a whole and to be honest, it's as close to family as you can get in the military from my perspective."
Having experienced teamwork among the numerous C-130 units on Little Rock AFB, Miller's career is a testament to the partnerships which define the Home of Combat Airlift. Numerous aspects of the mobility enterprise work together as an indistinguishable team of Active Duty military, civilians, Air Force reservists and Air National guardsmen at Little Rock AFB to execute the global mobility mission on behalf of the Nation, Joint Force, allies and coalition partners around the world.
"The best thing about the C-130 community from my limited perspective is there's not another community in the Air Force that's as close-knit as the C-130 community," Miller said. "There's not another base that offers as much of the C-130 community as Little Rock AFB."