Monday, September 5, 2011

Wounded warriors visit 74th EFS, Thunderbolt II

by Senior Airman David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2011 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Approximately 15 wounded warriors visited the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron here Aug. 29 to get a closer look at the attack aircraft that supports the ground troops throughout Afghanistan--the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The wounded warriors are currently being treated at Kandahar's Role 3 for various injuries to include traumatic brain injury, shrapnel wounds and strained limbs.

"Positive attitude is an essential part of these Soldiers health and well-being," said Army Sgt. Maj. Ken Knowlton, Task Force Warhorse rear area operations center NCO in charge. "The opportunity to spend a little time interacting with the 'Warthog' pilots and seeing how they take the fight to the enemy rejuvenates that spirit."

Even though the A-10 is more than 30 years old, it is still respected by adversaries and friendly forces alike.

"It's quite simple: when they see it, they run," said Army Spc. Jeremy Kosman, who is deployed with the 14th Engineer Battalion, 22nd Engineer Clearing Company from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Kosman is currently recovering from TBI and minor shrapnel wounds on his arm and leg but is expected to make a full recovery.

"Personally, it's my favorite plane," Kosman added. "These guys are fierce; when we're out there, they come in help us out."

Members of both services understand the value of the aircraft orientation.

"Knowing and understanding what we do helps give them piece of mind that we'll be there to support them when they're outside the wire," said Air Force Capt. Chris Palmer, 74 EFS pilot deployed from Moody Air Force Base Ga., and a Baltimore native. "And we get to put a face to their name, so it's mutually beneficial."

Pilots are tasked to fly four to eight hour sorties to provide close air support for task forces throughout the country. Prior to a combat sortie, most A-10s are armed with joint direct attack munitions and 30 mm high explosive incendiary rounds, which can be fired at up to 3,900 rounds per minute.

"The Air Force team gave an awesome tour, allowing us an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of my personal favorite aircraft," Army Spc. Daniel Baker, Charlie Company, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "As a medic, it was great to see the wounded warriors I accompanied get excited. It lifted their spirits, even if for a few hours."

The fighter squadron will host another tour for the wounded warriors Sept. 12.

"It has been an eye-opening experience for me to work with these wounded warriors and I respect them so much more now," said Air Force Senior Airman Justin Peattie, Role 3 and the assisting coordinator for the tour. "I wanted to do this to give back to them."

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Air Force Capt. Chris Palmer, 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot, shows a wounded warrior the 30 mm high explosive incendiary rounds during a tour of the A-10 Thunderbolt II Aug. 29, 2011. Approximately 15 wounded warriors visited the 74th EFS to get a closer look at the Wartog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Carbajal) Hi-res


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