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Swamp Foxes, hard work in the Big Easy

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder
  • 169th FW/PA
A contingent of Swamp Foxes recently returned from conducting red-air support for the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana Air National Guard, June 22. The 159th FW is preparing for a deployment and called on the 169th Fighter Wing to provide what it does best, deliver professional air power that can fully challenge the capabilities of any unit.

The South Carolina Air National Guard sent nine aircraft and a support package that consisted of 104 maintenance, operations and support personnel for the 10-day exercise. This exercise required tremendous effort from the entire unit to coordinate.

"Most exercises take three or more months to coordinate. We accomplished this one in less than 30 days and McEntire [JNGB] was able to do this without a hitch," said Capt. Drew Lehman, who shared exercise project officer duties with Maj. Taj Troy, both are from the 169th FW.

Priority one for the Swamp Foxes was to provide red-air, aggressor forces to challenge the blue-air, offensive and defensive forces from the 159th FW. Combined with F-16s from the 187th FW of the Alabama ANG, this exercise afforded the 159th FW the opportunity to receive maximum air-to-air training to accomplish its air-superiority mission for future deployment commitments, explained Lehman.

"With the South Carolina Air National Guard deploying to New Orleans to fight with the Louisiana ANG, we can execute Large Force Exercises and get training which is difficult to do with only one unit. It is great having this opportunity of Dissimilar Air Combat Training," said Col. Tom Sostarics, commander of the 159th FW.

The Swamp Fox team generated 48 missions with zero missed sorties during the very hot, humid and inclement weather conditions of the Deep South. This was accomplished with a lot of hard work and flexibility by the maintenance and support teams. Recent deployments and exercises have seasoned the 169th FW to pick up and go on short notice and deliver mission-ready aircraft and aircrews.

"The weather and high humidity was an absolute impact on our work," said Senior Master Sgt. James Revels, exercise chief of maintenance. "We didn't have a lot of maintenance issues and no cancellations. Our hard work culminated in the fact that we were able to meet the mission needs of the exercise."

Revels further added how fortunate it was to have the skills and flight line leadership of Master Sgts. Robert Bostic, David Hutter and Jerry Keefe, all from the 169th Maintenance Squadron. Bostic was the exercise expediter and Keefe was the exercise production superintendent. As the 169th MXS first sergeant, this was Hutter's first opportunity to serve in his new role. Their combined talents were instrumental in keeping the maintenance machine rolling, said Revels.

The combined cooperation from each of the three ANG units provided unique opportunities to train and share experiences. During these times of budget constraints and uncertainties, the ability to combine resources for value-added training was a great experience to take part in, explained Lehman. It was a great benefit to the 169th FW to validate its ability to integrate with different platforms and other guard units, he said.

"Some of our pilots were able to receive F-15 familiarization rides and gained great insight to that mission," said Lehman. "We took part in their mission briefs and learned more about integrating air superiority platforms and how other units operate."

Both Lehman and Revels commented on how much they appreciated the hospitality of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and the Louisiana ANG. This included everything from access to excellent work and billeting facilities, trouble-free connectivity to communications support and shared use of fuel trucks, tools and aerospace ground equipment.

"Every shop pulled together to make this happen," said Lehman. "It is a true testament to the professionalism of each of our wings."