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    Wing wraps up largest deployment since Desert Storm

    EASTOVER, SC, UNITED STATES

    08.22.2012

    Story by Maj. James Roth 

    South Carolina National Guard

    EASTOVER, S.C. — More than 300 members of the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing return from Operation Enduring Freedom this week. The deployed Swamp Foxes have been providing fighter support for ground commanders in Afghanistan for the past four months.

    The wing deployed a record 18 F-16 fighter jets and close to 400 personnel (pilots, maintenance specialists and support staff) in April. About 90 additional Swamp Foxes deployed in June to overlap briefly with and replace Airmen scheduled to return home mid-cycle.

    While deployed, the unit flew more than 2,200 sorties, totaling more than 9,400 combat hours. “Our biggest success was right where it needed to be – providing ground commanders close air support 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for 120 days straight,” said Lt. Col. Boris Armstrong, 157th Expeditionary Fighter Wing Squadron commander.

    The success of the mission was made possible by invaluable behind-the-scenes work from the unit’s maintenance crews working long hours in brutal Afghan summer heat to keep the jets flying.

    Maj. Shari Askins, officer in charge of F-16 maintenance while deployed to Kandahar Airfield, said, “The sacrifices they’ve made and the demands they’ve met are immeasurable. Walking the flight line in 118-degree heat with jets running, dust blowing in your face, and the constant anticipation of incoming rockets … their dedication is truly remarkable.”

    This was the wing’s largest deployment since Operation Desert Storm and the fourth major deployment of its F-16s since 2002 (when the wing deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and flew more than 200 combat missions in the early days of the Afghanistan Campaign). In 2003, the 169th deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and flew more than 400 combat missions. Then, in 2010, elements of the 169th deployed again to support operations in Iraq.

    Col. Mike Hudson, 169th Fighter Wing commander, said, “Deployments of this size and duration are not possible without the support of our families, our civilian employers and the community in general. Their support allows our Swamp Foxes to focus confidently on the mission at hand, and that focus contributed to this hard-working team’s phenomenal mission accomplishment in Afghanistan and at home.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.22.2012
    Date Posted: 08.24.2012 12:59
    Story ID: 93761
    Location: EASTOVER, SC, US 

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