Sunday, July 19, 2009

D-M Airmen deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

by 1st Lt. Mary Pekas
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/17/2009 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Nearly 300 Airmen and a number of A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 355th Fighter Wing here deployed to Afghanistan last week to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

The wing deployed pilots, maintainers and support personnel primarily from the 354th Fighter Squadron and the 355th Maintenance Group for a tour that will last approximately six months.

The 354th FS "Bulldogs" and the 355th MXG operate and maintain the A-10, an attack aircraft primarily used to provide close air support to ground forces. The A-10 mission also includes combat search and rescue, and forward air control for other combat aircraft.

"The 355th Fighter Wing is ready for combat," said Col. Robert Singleton, 355th Fighter Wing vice commander. "We are sending America's best warriors into harm's way, confident in their ability to successfully execute their mission."

The wing's last A-10 deployment was in 2007 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where its pilots flew more than 10,000 hours. Between deployments, the team of pilots and maintenance personnel take advantage of the unique, strategic training opportunities here in our desert landscape.

"The pilots of the 354th Fighter Squadron, under the leadership of Lt. Col. Michael Millen, have honed their skills on the incredible training ranges in southern Arizona. Our highly skilled maintainers have learned to generate combat capability during high operations tempos and temperature extremes," said the colonel. "The terrain, the weather, the airspace - few places offer such ideal training grounds."

While preparation is important to combat success, the colonel added that the Davis-Monthan and Tucson communities enable the mission in other ways.

"What brings our Airmen the most comfort is knowing their families are welcomed and cared for in this community," said Colonel Singleton. "With that assurance, our warriors can focus on bringing the fight to the enemy, and protecting our joint and coalition partners on the ground."


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