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NEWS | May 25, 2023

The Global Reach of VR-59: A Look at their Impact Across the World

By Sandy Owens, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth Public Affairs

Dotted along the flight line at Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) Fort Worth are three C-40A Clippers, specialized Boeing 737-700s with cargo doors. These aircraft belong to a mainstay on the flight line known as Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 59, or “The Lone Star Express.” Housed under Commander, Fleet Logistics Support Wing (CFLSW), who are also headquartered at NAS JRB Fort Worth. VR-59 is one of eleven CFLSW logistics squadrons across the United States; these Reserve units are comprised of both full-time Training and Administration of the Reserve (TAR) and part-time Selected Reserve (SELRES) Sailors.

VR-59’s primary mission is to provide safe, timely, interoperable, worldwide logistics. Through the execution of this mission, VR-59, along with the ten other squadrons across the country, saved taxpayers more than one billion dollars last fiscal year (FY). VR-59’s mission is critical to the success of the Navy and its joint partners, enabling agile and rapid response to global contingencies. In addition to providing logistical support, they also transport equipment and personnel, including senior military officials, Congressional delegates, and other dignitaries.

The SELRES Sailors at VR-59 are a shining example of the expertise, dedication, and readiness that “The Lone Star Express” brings to the fight. One thing that separates VR-59 from a typical Reserve command is their operational, active-duty support mission that requires SELRES to balance their civilian work life with their military Reserve life.

“VR-59 has a peacetime benefit with a wartime use, which means we must be ready 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Cmdr. Daniel Bradley, Commanding Officer of VR-59. “In order to support the mission, we have an organization of dedicated full-time and traditional Reservists. For many, a lot of their daily life is a balance between full-time civilian jobs, family and VR-59. At VR-59, the commitment of our part-time Reservists is well beyond that of the traditional two weeks a year, one weekend a month.”

According to Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Vannatta, VR-59's SELRES operations officer, “In FY 2022, VR-59 aircrew operated three C-40A aircraft contributing to Navy-Unique Fleet Essential Airlift assets flying 25,205 hours, transporting 96,105 passengers, and delivering 18,818,066 pounds of cargo, at a cost avoidance of $1.14 Billion.”

In addition to providing cost-effective transport services, VR-59 contributed significantly to the pandemic response by transporting essential supplies and personnel.

“In 2020 [VR-59] had a very special mission as the world contended with COVID-19. The unit was detached to Guam to support the transportation of over 10,000 testing kits from the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) to laboratories in South Korea,” explained Vannatta. “That same year, VR-59 flew 2,700 Navy Boot Camp graduates to their accession training and fleet concentration areas allowing the fleet’s training and deployment cycles to continue uninterrupted.”

Furthermore, in 2021, VR-59 operated in unison with fellow CFLSW squadrons, the "Conquistadors" of VR-57 and "Windjammers" of VR-51 in support of Operation Allies Refuge. This critical humanitarian mission operated around the clock and provided safe transport for over 120,000 civilian and military personnel out of Afghanistan.

“VR-59 stands ready to answer the call of some of the most critical, yet nearly unreported U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fleet readiness support missions,” said Vannatta. “To summarize the important role VR-59 serves in the U.S. Navy, in the words of General John J. Pershing, ‘Infantry wins battles, logistics win wars.’”

"The Lone Star Express" has a long history of excellence, and their commitment to providing safe and timely logistical support benefits the entire nation.

CFLSW and the Navy Air Logistics Office (NALO), the Navy Reserve command responsible for logistics planning for the CFLSW squadrons, remain the Navy's only source of dedicated air logistics, providing critical support around the globe with the K/C-130T Hercules and C-40A Clipper.