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Swamp Foxes pay tribute to 9/11 with special aircraft paint job

Pictured from left to right are Airman 1st Class Chase Szoke, Tech. Sgt. Austin Soltow, Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher and  Senior Airman Joseph Richter were part of a team who designed a commemorative tail flash on a Swamp Fox F-16 fighter jet with the tail number 911 to honor those who died during the terrorists attacks.

U.S. Airmen from the 169th Maintenance Group pose in the Structures shop at McEntire Joint National Guard Base S.C., April 22, 2020. Pictured from left to right are Airman 1st Class Chase Szoke, Tech. Sgt. Austin Soltow, Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher and Senior Airman Joseph Richter were part of a team who designed a commemorative tail flash on a Swamp Fox F-16 fighter jet with the tail number 911 to honor those who died during the terrorists attacks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen Hudson.)

Pictured from left to right are Airman 1st Class Chase Szoke, Tech. Sgt. Austin Soltow, Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher and  Senior Airman Joseph Richter were part of a team who designed a commemorative tail flash on a Swamp Fox F-16 fighter jet with the tail number 911 to honor those who died during the terrorists attacks.

U.S. Airmen from the 169th Maintenance Group pose in the Structures shop at McEntire Joint National Guard Base S.C., April 22, 2020. Pictured from left to right are Airman 1st Class Chase Szoke, Senior Airman Joseph Richter, Tech. Sgt. Austin Soltow and Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher were part of a team who designed a commemorative tail flash on a Swamp Fox F-16 fighter jet with the tail number 911 to honor those who died during the terrorists attacks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Stephen Hudson.)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

The South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Maintenance Group honored the memory of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 with a commemorative paint job on one of the SCANG’s F-16 aircraft.  

The project, spearheaded by several Airmen from the 169th Maintenance Squadron in the Structures shop, came from a request from the Maintenance Group Commander, Col. Adrian Meyer. The plane, number 911, recently returned from routine depot maintenance at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Col. Meyer wanted to commemorate the sacrifices from that day. “We figured that was the best time to change the tail flash,” Meyer said, especially since it also received a new paint job while at Hill.

Previously the aircraft had a “Wild Weasel” painted tail flash to celebrate the SCANG’s history and mission in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses.

Meyer explained Airmen from structures came up with three initial design concepts and the final design was approved by the 169th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Akshai Gandhi.

The tail flash of the Swamp Fox F-16 was painted as a tribute to the lives lost nearly 20 years ago. The plane was chosen because its tail number is 92-3911. The commemorative paint scheme features a stylized American flag, logos of the Fire Department of New York and the New York Police Department, as well as the skyline of New York City with the number of civilians killed in the World Trade Towers, United Flight 93 and The Pentagon. The 2574 is the number of civilians killed in NYC, Pentagon and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. That number does not include first responders who died that day.

Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher, who worked on the project, also serves as a volunteer fire fighter in Lexington County. Fisher said they wanted to do, “something different” with the jet to honor Sept. 11.  

“It’s just fun doing something different,” said Fisher. “Most of our work is under the jet, so doing something other people can see and appreciate shows the skill and passion of this shop.”

Other members of the Structures Shop including Master Sgt. Adam Fekete, Tech. Sgt. Austin Soltow, Staff Sgt. Michael Deweese, Staff Sgt. Michael Fisher, Senior Airman Joseph Richter and Airman 1st Class Chase Szoke worked on the project.

“It was tough, but I am very proud of it,” Fisher said.