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New York Air Guard's 106th Rescue Wing Welcomes First Enlisted Air-Ground Support Specialists

  • Published
  • By SSgt Kevin J. Donaldson
  • 106th Rescue Wing

F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, N.Y. – The New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing celebrated a significant milestone with the enlistment of its first Tactical Air Control Party member during a swearing-in ceremony here on March 1.

Toby Ou, a Flushing resident and a graduate of Benjamin N. Cardoza High School in Bayside, will serve as a member of the teams that support ground forces by directing air attacks on the enemy.

Known as TACPs for short, these Airmen play a critical role in ensuring the success of missions and the safety of troops on the ground.

While Ou will train with the 106th Rescue Wing’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, he will be assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 274th Air Support Operations Squadron which specializes in the close air support mission.

That unit is part of the 107th Attack Wing and is based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse.

Enlisting Ou to serve on Long Island, while assigned to another unit, benefits both the Airmen and assists the 274th in filling critical positions, according to Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Harvey, one of the 106th’s recruiters, and a survival evasion resistance and escape specialist.

1st Lt. Alexander Triani, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 103rd Rescue Squadron, said he took pride in administering Ou's oath of enlistment.

"This is about enhancing the 106th's mission by becoming diverse, agile, and adaptable rescue-oriented warfighters," Triani said.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by the Wing Commander Col. Shawn P. Fitzgerald, Command Chief Master Sgt. Edward P. Rittberg, and Ou's proud parents, Winnie and Calvin.

Ou said he joined the Air National Guard to help serve his community and the country.

"My inspiration stems from my great grandfather's service in the Taiwanese Air Force and the captivating tales shared by my cousin, a U.S. Marine, about Long Island's Air Force base, motivating me to pursue a career in special warfare," Ou said.

Another factor that influenced his path to the TACP position was a social media post.

"I learned about this job opening through Tech Sgt. Jonathan Harvey and the 106th Instagram," Ou said.

The newly enlisted member said he is dedicated to rigorous training in preparation for the demanding two-year TACP training pipeline.

According to the recruiting office, this pipeline begins with Basic Military Training, where he will learn the fundamentals of being an airman, followed by specialized instruction in tactics, communications, and coordination of air support at TACP School.

The 103rd is offering, a preparatory development program to help Ou prepare for the demanding TACP training.

Harvey emphasized the screening process Ou underwent.

Ou had to score well on the test the military uses to help determine which jobs a recruit can best fill, Harvey explained. He also had to pass a rigorous physical, he added.

"Once he completed those two, he then took an Air Force Special Warfare Initial Fitness Test to ensure he could meet the physical standards necessary to enter the TACP pipeline," Harvey said.

After completing his training, Ou will join three other TACP members enlisted and assigned to the 274th, all serving on Long Island.

This partnership between the 106th and the 107th offers a unique opportunity for collaboration, allowing TACP personnel enlisted at the 106th to drill at Gabreski for the duration of their first six-year enlistment, Harvey said.

"This is just the beginning of an even closer relationship between our units, and I am very excited to be a part of it," he said.

Fitzgerald said this is a great partnership between New York Air Guard wings.

"The 106th Rescue Wing, in partnership with the 107th Attack Wing, is honored to contribute to the growth of the Air Force Special Warfare community by opening and recruiting positions for TACP Airmen the ability to drill and call F.S. Gabreski their home station,” Fitzgerald said.

“This opportunity not only allows us to share our expertise in rescue but also plays a pivotal role in preparing Air Force Special Warfare Airmen for the challenges ahead," Fitzgerald added.

Ou says he is ready for the challenges ahead.

"I'm excited to be the first enlisted TACP at the 106th, I train every day, and I'm ready to work with the developers to prepare for success," he said.

The 106th Rescue Wing, based at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.