BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The A-10s are from the 23rd Fighter Wing “Flying Tigers” based out of Moody.
"After nearly 7,400 miles, the squadron is so excited to be back at Bagram,” said Lt. Col. David Haworth, 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. “It's a great feeling being a part of a wing so focused on delivering combat power. The 74th Fighter Squadron was born in combat and all the flyers, maintainers and support folks here from Moody are ready to write the next great chapter in Flying Tiger history.”
The first aircraft to land was ‘caught’ by a crew of maintainers led by Staff Sgts. Rebecca Gaddy and Andres Araugo, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs.
Araujo said to be on the crew chosen to receive the aircraft piloted by the squadron commander is a privilege.
“It’s a sense of pride, honestly, to be able to know that we can be here ready, standing by, receiving our jets,” he said.
“It’s the world famous ‘Flying Tigers,’” Gaddy added. “They pick a good set of people who are quick on the draw.”
Gaddy, Araujo and their fellow maintainers arrived a week prior to the aircraft in order to ensure a smooth transition.
“We did a lot of pre-staging for the aircraft… getting tools accounted for, [finding] places to put our fuel tanks, and of course establishing the turnover with our predecessors,” Gaddy said.
Araujo said he’s looking forward to carrying on the work done by their forebears, the “Bulldogs” of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, now heading home to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
“We’d like to carry that forward and not only continue to do what they’ve been doing, but excel and continue to raise the standards,” he said.
While this is Gaddy’s first deployment here, it is Araujo’s second. He said that many of the other maintainers are also new to Bagram.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys coming in. I’ve been in that position before and am able now to play the other role and guide them and make sure they set their first impression the right way,” he said.
“It’s going to be some good, tough work, but this is our job.”