Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hawgsmoke A-10s dazzle local visitors

by Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/17/2008 - SALINA, Kan. (AFNS) -- The Hawgsmoke 2008 bombing and gunnery portion of the competition took place Oct.16 as A-10 Thunderbolt IIs attacked targets on the nearby Smoky Hill Range, dazzling the spectators who gathered to observe.

It was Day 3 of the event and members of the press, community leaders and other distinguished visitors were able view the weapons portion of the competition from a hilltop vantage point at the Kansas Air National Guard's 34,000-acre range facility. The range is operated by the 184th Intelligence Wing.

"I've lived in Salina a couple of years, but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support we've received from the city," said Lt. Col. Jeff Maddex, the 184th IW's range commander. "This was all coordinated across two states, Missouri and Kansas, and required a lot of communication. It's really great to see it all come together."

For many of those invited to attend, it was their first experience with the A-10. For others, like Aaron White, a Marine veteran of Desert Storm and Somalia and a member of the Salina Chamber of Commerce, it was a glimpse into the past.

"This brings back memories for me [when] I got to call in air support on some armaments during training once," Mr. White said. "I expected Marine air support, and to my surprise they sent an A-10. I was very impressed. I remember thinking this should be a Marine plane. It's mean and ugly, just like us."

As the A-10s closed in on their appointed gunnery targets, smoke surrounded the plane, warning the viewers of the deep, belligerent roar soon to follow as the Warthog unleashed its super- sonic wrath on the goal beneath.

"The noise intrigues me more than anything. I can't imagine being on the receiving end of it," said Rob Exline, a visitor from the UMB Bank board of directors. "I didn't know what to expect from today but it has absolutely lived up to my expectations. This is all very exciting for Salina."

Hawgsmoke 2008 is all about the A-10 and its pilots, but today the Air Force made an impression on a small group of citizens.

After viewing these aircraft and pilots in action the visitors departed the damp grassy hilltop in central Kansas thankful they were not on a rocky hilltop in Afghanistan, dreading an on-coming storm front moving in from a U.S. Air Force-dominated sky. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)


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