Images: 169th Fighter Wing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq [Image 2 of 20]
Airman 1st Class Trew Valasse, a crew chief with the 169th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., 169th Fighter Wing, performs pre-flight systems checks on an F-16 Fighting Falcon, about to take off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, June 6. The 169th FW at McEntire sent F-16’s, pilots, maintenance specialists and support personnel overseas for its first major combat operation since 2003, when the unit deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and flew more than 400 combat missions. The 169th FW is now an "Active Associate" wing. This unique agreement with the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB Base embeds 150 active duty Airmen with the 169th FW at McEntire to forge an even stronger, more mobile force. Elements of the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th FW began this historic deployment in early May 2010 when airmen landed at JBB in support of OIF.