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Aircrew, maintainers gain from multinational exercise

A 121st Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 149th Fighter Wing recently over Chile. The aircraft were taking part in Exercise Salitre. (Photo submitted/Released)

A 121st Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 149th Fighter Wing recently over Chile. The aircraft were taking part in Exercise Salitre. (Photo submitted/Released)

121st Air Refueling Wing Airmen pose with members of the Chilean Air Force in front of a Chilean KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 5, 2014,  at Pudahuel Air Base, Chile. (Photo Submitted)

121st Air Refueling Wing Airmen pose with members of the Chilean Air Force in front of a Chilean KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 5, 2014, at Pudahuel Air Base, Chile. (Photo Submitted/Released)

RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- Eighteen Airmen from the 121st Air Refueling Wing here returned home from Pudahuel Air Base, Chile Oct. 20 after participating in Exercise Salitre.

The Airmen spent two weeks supporting and training air forces from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and the United States.

The Airmen represented the wing's aircraft maintenance, logistics readiness, maintenance and refueling squadrons.

They offloaded more than 94,000 pounds of fuel during seven aerial refueling missions, including six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 149th Fighter Wing in Texas.

Airmen spoke with students at the Chilean air force's technical school as well as with their crew chiefs and jet engine mechanics. "We talked to them about being more proficient and effective in their jobs," said Master Sgt. Ben Ruggles, Aircraft Maintenance production superintendent. "It was pretty neat."

They also gave the Chilean air force an apparatus that makes it easier for them to tow aircraft on their confined flight line, said Lt. Col. Victor Wilson, a Current Operations officer.

"We developed a true appreciation for 'the Chilean way,' as they called it," said Wilson. The Chilean air force also cross-trains their airmen in multiple jobs. "They have a much different way of viewing things, and we can certainly learn from that."

Airmen also took three boxes of toys with them, and the 149th distributed them to children at the Leonardo Guzman Regional Hospital in Antofagasta, Chile.