By Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Thompson
182nd Airlift Wing
GRAYLING, Mich., Feb. 4, 2014 – As Air Force Senior Airman Nick Barth prepared a standard airdrop training bundle on a C-130 Hercules during Exercise Northern Strike on Aug. 6, 2013, he reflected on what his father told him right before his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Barth is a loadmaster with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 169th Airlift Squadron, based in Peoria, Ill.
“Whenever you are resupplying troops in the field, put a care package in the bundle that says, ‘For the JTAC only,’” he said, quoting his father, Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Barth, a joint terminal air controller for more than 25 years with the 182nd Air Support Operations Group in Peoria.
The elder Barth said he knows all about how important resupply airdrop bundles are in the field. To receive a personal package only for the JTAC, he added, is like gold.
Nick Barth said he remembers dropping his father off at the Greater Peoria Air National Guard Base for many different deployments, and he wanted to follow along his family’s tradition of serving in the military. With advice from his father, he decided three years ago to join the Air National Guard.
That August airdrop was different from most, as Chuck Barth controlled the drop that his son released. They’d never had the opportunity to work together until Northern Strike at Grayling Air and Gunner Range in Alpena, Mich.
As Nick Barth finished his checklist, he slid in a handwritten note that he knew his father would receive when he collected the deployed bundled.
During his control duties with the C-130 at Grayling Gunnery Range, Chuck Barth said, he knew he was not speaking directly to his son, but that he could have the pilot relay a message.
“Hey Torch, tell the load in No. 2 hi,” he said over the radio.
As the Northern Strike exercise continued, another opportunity came up for the Barths to work together. During a demonstration for distinguished visitors, Chuck Barth would control aircraft at the Grayling Gunnery Range. His son, who was scheduled for a down day, took the opportunity to watch his father in action so he could get the true understanding of what a JTAC does.
Though they might not have another opportunity to work so closely together again, the father and son said, the memory is one that they can share together for a lifetime.
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