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    Air Force JTAC's support every aspect of combat missions

    Air Force JTAC's Support Every Aspect of Combat Missions

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Richard Williams | Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes, a tactical air control party Airman, and Senior Airman...... read more read more

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, AFGHANISTAN

    05.15.2010

    Story by Tech. Sgt. Richard Williams 

    455th Air Expeditionary Wing

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, Afghanistan — U.S. Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron were called into action when their unit came under attack during joint operations near the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, May 12-15.

    The mission was a near-border operation to remove any potential enemy threats from a named area of interest, said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Garner, 817th EASOS, JTAC.

    On May 12, Garner and Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes, a Tactical Air Control Party radio operator, maintainer and driver, also assigned to the 817th EASOS, entered their forward operating location as enlisted air liaisons for ground forces. They established an observation point that would give them a clear view of the area and allow them to observe any enemy positions.

    "When we control [air] assets in a close air support role, it is getting their eyes on the friendly positions first so they know where the friendly's are and if there are any enemy positions out there I want to pass that on to them as well," said Garner, deployed from 19th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Campbell, Ky. By relaying that type of information to aircraft overhead, enemy forces can potentially be neutralized and the potential for any civilian casualties can be reduced, he added.

    While on patrol, May 13, with Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Rakkasan, the unit was attacked by enemy mortar, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire, said Garner.

    "We came under fire and Airman Hughes got on the joint air request and called in for close air support," said Airman Garner, a Mt. Gilead, N.C., native. "While we were taking fire, we were also returning fire."

    "It was pretty wild," said Hughes, a Costa Mesa, Calif., native. "Honestly, my adrenaline was pretty high when we were getting shot at, but then my training kicked in and I got the sat [communication] set up and got on the radio to get us some air support."

    After Hughes coordinated for the inbound aircraft, he began returning fire at enemy positions and assisting Garner in directing the air traffic in the skies over the battlefield and assisting anyone who needed it.

    As Garner began to receive radio transmissions from two inbound F-15E Strike Eagles, Hughes attended to Soldiers who had been wounded. Hughes also provided covering fire for Garner and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Healey, of Newton, Iowa, a forward observer with the 1-187th.

    With mortars landing very close to their position, Garner maintained contact with aircraft, and Hughes began moving the wounded to a casualty collection point where he coordinated an aerial medical evacuation.

    Garner directed aircraft to fly over the battle space in a show of force. He then coordinated with Healey, who was in contact with an artillery unit and preparing to fire at enemy mortar locations.

    "While Airman Hughes was calling in to get CAS, Sergeant Healey was helping me get grid map locations," said Garner. "He was also giving me updates on artillery firing directions so I could redirect air assets out of the area."

    Healey, who was a trained Combat Life Saver, began applying bandages and assisting Airman Hughes with the injured soldiers, said Garner.

    "Some of the wounded were near my [satellite communication] station," explained Hughes. "I went back and forth to try to check on them and give them water and help them out the best they could."

    Once MEDEVAC was en route the casualties needed to be moved to the landing zone, said Hughes.

    "Everyone started laying down cover fire and I looked at one of the injured Soldiers and said, 'This is going to hurt,' and he looked at me and said, 'Alright,' so I picked him up and fireman-carried him to the helicopter,"

    said Hughes. "Luckily none of us got hit trying to get them out."

    "When the MEDEVAC helicopters arrived, I helped load some of the wounded and pulled security so no one else would become a casualty," said Hughes.

    The troops in contact situation lasted maybe 30 minutes, but it felt like hours, said Hughes. "Honestly, when you are getting shot at it seems like time is going by really slow," he said.

    The training the JTACs and ROMADS go through prepares thme well for dealing with these types of kinetic situations. Almost all JTACs are assigned to Army units so they are familiar with procedures for artillery and MEDEVAC, said Garner.

    Healey agrees. "Working with the JTACs has its challenges. I have to ensure they clear the air space before I give the 'go ahead' for any artillery," he said.

    Another important aspect is both services being able to share battle space information to ensure whatever munitions or aircraft they are calling in does not have a negative effect, added Sergeant Healey.

    Following a mission, Garner said he always looks at ways he could have done things a little bit better to improve for the next mission, and Airman Hughes and Healey agree.

    "It is a total team effort when we get out there," said Garner. "Not just with your JTAC team, but with your Army counterparts as well. We all did what we were supposed to do."

    Garner, who was the senior JTAC on the mission, lauded Hughes' actions saying, "He did what he was supposed to do. He did an excellent job getting people to the MEDEVAC site and that day I think he showed his true colors."

    Reflecting on the day's events, Hughes felt things went the way they were supposed to go. "Airman Garner and I did our job very fluidly and the Army did their job neutralizing the enemy."

    "They [the Army] are always joking with us about the Air Force but they appreciate what we do," said Hughes.

    "It feels good that the Air Force can bring something to the fight on the ground and in the air," he added.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.15.2010
    Date Posted: 05.23.2010 04:45
    Story ID: 50116
    Location: FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, AF 

    Web Views: 584
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