Sunday, February 19, 2012

A10s head north

by Staff Sgt. Heather Skinkle
451st Air Expeditionary Wing

Members of the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and Royal Australian air force pose in front of an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Feb. 14, 2012. This was the last A-10 tour given before the aircraft were flown north to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Passion Julinsey) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 79-0119 from the 303rd Fighter Squadron, 442nd Fighter Wing (AFRC), Whiteman AFB, Missouri.

2/19/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Since their arrival here, unit members from the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and the 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron have executed their mission despite the day-to-day complications that come with moving to a different base to support a close-air support reset of Air Force assets within Afghanistan. They've kept focus on the big picture goal.

"We need to keep supporting our ground troops while still moving 163 increments of cargo, 350 people, and A-10s up north in just a few days," said Lt. Col. Steve Nester, 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Commander, deployed from the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

The A-10s were originally housed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and came down to Kandahar Airfield in 2008. Now, with the CAS reset, the A-10s are headed north to Bagram Airfield again. That involves a hectic juggling act to balance two groups of people, cargo, and aircraft moving between two airfields, but group members were up to the task.

"We haven't missed one sortie since we've been here," said Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Lyons, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron specialist flight supervisor, deployed from the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

Yet keeping focused on the mission while dealing with everyday issues such as living quarters, meals, and laundry can put stress on a unit, Nester said.

Both Nester and Lyons said that though some members had to move quarters three or four times, there were always people quick to volunteer to help out with extra duties to pick up the slack. A can-do attitude and team spirit directly contribute to this group's success rate.

"If you don't have the whole team working together, you can't put bombs on target," said Lyons.

Other members cite patience, flexibility, awareness, helpfulness, and professionalism as traits everyone possesses in ample quantity.

"Our folks have handled all this well and with the professionalism of an experienced combat unit," said Nester.


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