Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tigers with new stripes -- AFRC activates new associate A-10 unit at Moody AFB

by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On A-10C 79-0141, Tech. Sgt. Scott Lopez, an A-10 Thunderbolt II crew chief with the 476th Maintenance Squadron, reveals the name of A-10 pilot, Lt. Col. Bill James, in a special unit-activation ceremony held at Moody AB, Georgia, July 11, 2009. Colonel James is the commander of the newly activated 76th Fighter Squadron, part of an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 associate unit here. The parent unit of the 476th MXS, the also newly-formed 476th Fighter Group, fly's the 23rd Wing's aircraft in a program that is a partnership with the Regular Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

7/11/2009 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air Force's historic Flying Tigers officially came to the Air Force Reserve Command as the 476th Fighter Group was activated in a ceremony here, July 11.

The stand up of the 476th FG -- with its subordinate units, the 76th Fighter Squadron, the 476th Maintenance Squadron and the 476th Aerospace Medicine Flight -- is also historic as it officially brings Total Force Integration to Moody AFB with 476th Citizen Airmen flying and maintaining the 23rd Wing's A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft in the Air Force's first A-10 fighter- associate unit partnership.

During the ceremony Col. Greg Eckfeld, 476th FG commander, spoke of the great distance the group has come since its start in 2008 as a detachment of the 442nd Fighter Wing, which is based at Whiteman AFB, Mo.

"A little more than a year ago I arrived at Moody, excited, but wondering how I, and a group of four other initial personnel , were going to grow this organization and if we could integrate Citizen Airmen from the Air Force Reserve with our active-duty counterparts," Colonel Eckfeld said. "I can say without question, we have been successful."

According to the colonel, this has been accomplished while supporting real-world, combat operations with pilots and crew chiefs deploying for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Colonel Eckfeld also thanked his people for all of their hard work in making it happen and emphasized his gratitude to Moody's host unit for their contributions in the effort to make TFI a reality.

"My future challenge and primary goals are, first, recruiting and then integrating traditional reservists and Air Reserve Technicians into the busy operations tempo of the 23rd Wing," Colonel Eckfeld said. "Our challenge is building integrated organizations that operate seamlessly with both active-duty personnel and reservists working side by side in this busy environment."

The event, presided over by Col. Mark Clemons, 442nd FW commander, followed the time-honored tradition of unfurling each unit's guidon flags, and introducing the new commanders. It included a special salute to the 476th FG and 76th FS commanders by their respective aircraft crew chiefs as commanders' names were revealed painted on the sides of two A-10s.

Underscoring the group's pioneering role in the Air Force, Colonel Clemons recounted the 76th Fighter Squadron's heritage from its start in China as the American Volunteer Group and subsequent organization as an official Army Air Forces squadron during World War II.

"Once again, the 76th is pioneering new ways of applying combat aerospace power," Colonel Clemons said of the 76th FS. "With its reincarnation as the 76th Fighter Squadron, this proud and storied unit will be the first-ever A-10 associate unit, flying a unique combat aircraft, which has been modified for the digital age - the A-10C."

Group members, standing in formation, rendered salutes to their new leaders as the ceremony progressed. Recognizing the significance of the event, some later expressed their pride, as well as a determination to become a TFI team player.

"We are here and we are ready to support the active-duty," said Master Sgt. Stacey Moore, 476th AMDF. "We are stepping forward in a new thing and we are going to make it work."

Col. Mark Clemons, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, and Col. Greg Eckfeld, 476th Fighter Group commander, reveal the newly-activated 476th FG's guidon flag in a special activation ceremony at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 11, 2009. The 476th FG, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II unit will fly the 23rd Wing's -- Moody's host unit -- A-10s in a partnership with the Regular Air Force. The 442nd FW, based at Whiteman AFB, Mo., is the 476th FG's parent unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

Col. Greg Eckfeld, 476th Fighter Group commander, addresses the newly-activated 476th FG. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

Lt. Col. Stuart Moore, 76th Fighter Squadron director of operations, leads the assembled, newly-activated 476th Fighter Group in a salute to the Group's commander Col. Greg Eckfeld. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res


Related info:
476th Fighter Group (AFRC) vido clip released

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