Same fight - unrivaled wingman deploys

27 Apr 2007 | Laura Dermarderosian-Smith

Editor's Note: For security reasons only rank and first name are used for deploying Airmen. 

Members of the 301st Fighter Wing will again fly as the unrivaled wingman when they deploy in support of the Aerospace Expeditionary Force. 

"When we arrive there, we're going to blend in with the units already there to make a seamless transition and to perform as well, or better than any unit that's there now -- or has been there," said deployment commander Lt. Col. Bob. 

Knowing the fighter squadron is scheduled for the AEF on an average of every 15 months, their preparation for the mission is set as far back as a year in advance starting with their annual training plan, explained the commander. Then, six to seven months from the actual deployment date, the squadron begins to tailor their flying program to "become proficient at those [requirements] we're going to do on the deployment," he said. 

Some of those preparations include participating in several Air Warrior II exercises and other training opportunities with the special forces community he added. 

"I'm glad that this squadron has the opportunity to participate in the Global War on Terrorism in this manner, i.e., on the front lines ... I think that we are the best squadron in the combat Air Force," he said. "I don't think there is any other squadron that has the experience doing this type of business. We do." 

All of the people going on this deployment are volunteers. Unfortunately for some, not everyone who volunteered will have the opportunity to go, mainly because the deployments are limited in size. "When I've spoke to people who are staying behind, I would say the reaction is disappointment," commented the colonel. 

The AEF mission is important, but so is the one here intimated Colonel Bob, "We'll still need to keep the squadron running back here." 

Since September 11, 2001, 301st Fighter Wing units and individual personnel in various career fields have supported other missions related to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle's homeland defense, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

"I feel very fortunate deploying with this squadron, with the quality of people we have," said the deployment commander. "I know they'll do an outstanding job and I believe it's the job they do that sets a good example for the citizens of our country."