LOGAN COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Welcome to Camp Branch in Logan County, West Virginia.
This week, the West Virginia Air National Guard 130th Airlift Wing is hosting joint training exercises here as part of Sentry Storm 2021.
C-130 airplanes take off and land on this dirt airstrip which used to be an old surface mine.
Major Carl Benson is the Chief of Tactics for the 130th Airlift Wing and mission planner for this exercise.
“This is the first year that we actually put up tents on Camp Branch to build a forward operating base so that we could execute missions out of Camp Branch,” Benson explained.
These missions include C-130’s from Charleston, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Georgia doing air drops and resupplying cargo or people.
Army and Navy helicopters are also taking part. This medevac crew practices moving a patient onto a Navy chopper.
The West Virginia Air National Guard says having the dirt airstrip here in Logan County is great because it’s remote and can mimic lots of different environments.
“It’s very dynamic,” Benson said. “We can change up multiple things out here. We can change up the scenario depending on user requirements and depending on unit requirements and what we’re training towards.”
The Air National Guard, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Civil Air Patrol, Navy, and Army are all training at this operating base.
Master Sergeant Ronald Davis of Cabin Creek and his team of 15 airmen from the 130th Civil Engineer Squadron put up nine tents in a couple of days…. complete with electricity and air conditioning.
“It shows our capabilities, lets people know within our unit what we can do and what we’re capable that when we’re called things can get done,” Davis said about the joint training exercise.
It’s also important to be prepared. City of Logan firefighters are on standby with Air Force firefighters every day just in case.
“We’re there to assist and do anything that needs to be done as far as fire suppression, or first aid, medical help,” said Capt. Chris Hatfield of the Logan Fire Department.
The firefighters have worked with the 130th before and have thankfully never had anything bad happen.
The primary mission of the 130th Airlift Wing is the airdrop of people and cargo… but this training also includes special forces and a search and rescue mission.
All to keep them ready for real-life war situations.
Between 30 and 50 troops are staying at Camp Branch every night, but around 90 are there during the day. This training exercise wraps up on Friday.
Sentry Storm is held every two years.