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Reserve commander returns from historic deployment

‘Team McChord’ relationship personified

Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th Airlift Wing commander, center, shares a moment with Lt. Col. Tony Angello, 313th Airlift Squadron commander, Jan. 4 on the flightline at McChord Field upon the Reservist’s return from a 60-day deployment. /Tyler Hemstreet

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It was yet another example of "Team McChord" accomplishing the mission.

When the commander in the active-duty 4th Airlift Squadron wasn't able to deploy with the unit in October due to an upcoming inspection, wing leadership looked to the 446th Airlift Wing to fill the void.

Lt. Col. Tony Angello, a Reservist who has been with the 446th AW for 12 years, proudly offered to fill in.

"What self-respecting commander wouldn't want to command?" said Angello, who commands the 313th Airlift Squadron on the Reserve side.

In a historic deployment, Angello became the first Reservist to command an active-duty flying squadron.

"I've been around here for a long time and I've seen the relationship the active and the Reserves have had over the years," Angello said last week after the squadron returned home from 60-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. "We've leaned on each other in the past, and this is just another example of leaning on each other again."

During his deployment as the 817th EAS commander, Angello was responsible for commanding C-17 Globemaster III flight operations in U.S. CENTCOM, overseeing about 100 Reserve and active-duty Airmen deployed to Incirlik Air Base and the squadron detachment in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

"(I participated in) the initial invasion of Iraq, and (then) this opportunity came up," said Angello, a West Seattle resident who flies for Alaska Airlines full-time. "I knew we were pulling out of Iraq so I thought it would be a great opportunity to come full circle in that effort."

During the squadron's deployment, the unit flew 951 sorties, equaling more than 3,056 hours, moving more than 50,328 passengers and delivering more than 29.9 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and operations in East Africa.

"We got the job done right every single time," Angello said. "Guys were ready to fly one of the most complex and challenging airspaces - probably one of the most challenging I've seen since Iraq in 2007."

Although the 60-day deployment was something that took a little time to get used to for the Reservist (who at most was gone for three weeks at a time in his Reserve capacity) , Angello said it was worth it because his unit performed flawlessly.

"It's always a good sign when leadership back home doesn't call you," Angello, a father of three, said with a laugh. "If you're doing it right, then they don't call. My litmus test was I didn't get a single call from my commander. It went about as well as I possibly imagined."

While Angello's deployment was historic, the formula of combining the Reserve and the active-duty component is going to become more and more commonplace, according to Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander.

"This is the future of the military and the Department of Defense," Bowers said of the relationship. "Everybody working together."

The two components already work together on Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica, and units routinely work together on presidential support missions, he said.

"Using the total force is also fiscally responsible," Bowers said.

The relationship is made possible thanks to his Reservists' dedication to their patriotic duty as well as the local employers that give them the time off to serve, the colonel said.

"Our employers are part of this success story, too," Bowers said.

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