‘Starr’ Performer: CR Airman shines during Mobility Guardian 2023

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Scott Warner
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

A star was born during Air Mobility Command’s largest-ever full-spectrum readiness exercise, Exercise Mobility Guardian 2023, which involved more than 3,000 U.S. and Allied forces personnel.

During this large-scale mobility exercise, Tech. Sgt. Connor Starr, a 821st Contingency Response Squadron fuels craftsman, seamlessly integrated with Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts from the 3rd Tactical Airlift Wing, Miho Air Base, Japan, to conduct a wet-wing defueling into a bladder, a first-time for both units.

“Wet Wing Defueling (WWD) is an operation for providing fuel from a tanker aircraft with one or more engines running into approved fuel-handling equipment, which in this case, was a large fuel bladder,” said Starr. “WWD gives us the capability to refuel bladders, tanks and other fuel equipment at any location in the world regardless of its geographical location or accessibility of contracted logistical support.”

According to Starr, WWD has the ability to boost military capabilities such as Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and maneuver possibilities to operate in the dynamic Pacific environment. In layman’s terms, WWD makes the U.S. Air Force and its allies faster while giving their respective units more flexibility when moving from one location to another.

“Wet Wing Defueling is a relatively new concept and can give the U.S. Air Force the capability to establish and resupply fuel at any undeveloped airfield, bare base or strategic point of interest in the world,” said Starr. “As a result, this could expand the global reach of our mobility support or fighter aircraft. Ultimately, increasing our Air Force’s overall mobility and lethality.”

For his efforts during Exercise Mobility Guardian 2023, the 621st Contingency Response Wing’s leadership team recognized Starr as a “Star Performer.”

"Although new to CR, Tech. Sgt. Starr proactively integrated with his JASDF counterparts to quickly identify where he could help solve problems and streamline operations," said Lt. Col. Aaron Sands, 821st CRS director of operations. "His efforts had a significant impact on this unique bi-lateral special fueling operation."

While his performance excellence of WWD-implication was the focus on his award nomination, Starr spoke about his time with the JASDF as one of the most important takeaways.

What I enjoyed most was working alongside our international partners to achieve one common goal,” Starr emphasized. “The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) was extremely professional and courteous hosts to our team while working together in the field. They made it very easy for our specialized team to integrate, train and synchronize U.S and foreign Contingency Response (CR) tactics and strategy.”

Additionally, Starr trained the Japanese on Contingency Response methodology, greatly enhancing their development of a similar unit in the JASDF.

“My time in Japan was outstanding! I have always had great interactions when working with any of our international partners, but the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) were very kind, courteous and interested in how we as an Air Force conduct business in the field,” said Star emphatically. “I believe we both learned more than a few things working side-by-side during MG23.”

As a subject matter expert, Starr has a high-level of technical expertise and knowledge on everything to do with handling fuel operations and coordination within Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) realm. That has the makeup for a great Airman, but what makes Starr standout even more is his passion for his job.

“I absolutely love that my job gives me the ability to travel around the world and meet new people,” said Starr. “This was one of the main reasons why I joined the Air Force and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to do this job as well as grateful to be in the position I am in currently.”

During his time at Mobility Guardian 2023, Starr’s work ethic garnered a lot of attention from people in his unit, some of which have never worked with him before while others have seen his consistency, day in and day out. 

“What really has always stood out to me about Tech. Sgt. Starr is that he sincerely enjoys his job,” said Tech. Sgt. Ty Craiglow, 821st CRS noncommissioned officer in-charge of vehicle maintenance and fellow co-worker with Starr. “He is always smiling, you can just tell he loves every second of what he does, and he is just extremly knowledgeable, a true subject matter expert on everything fuel-related.”

Starr immediately gave credit back to his team.

“While it feels great to be recognized for this achievement, I could not have successfully accomplished this without my teams support,” said Starr. “Most POL teams across the enterprise don’t receive the opportunity to perform WWDs at our home duty stations, so being able to apply it in a way to create a tactical advantage with our allies was incredibly satisfying. I’m honored to be able to be one of the first POL troops to have conducted this operation for my unit and working with the JASDF personnel to get this mission done was truly an honor.”