26 January 2006

Pugnacious Pups Deploy to Afghanistan

A 355th Fighter Squadron A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II moves in position under and slightly behind a KC-135R Stratotanker to commence refueling operations during Exercise Northern Edge '99 on March 9, 1999. The Thunderbolt, affectionately known as a Warthog, is from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. - DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Richards, U.S. Air Force.

EIELSON Air Force BASE, Alaska - More than 400 Airmen with the 355th Fighter Squadron and the 354th Maintenance Group and their A-10 Thunderbolt IIs recently left for a 120-day deployment.

“I’m excited to go on this deployment,” said Capt. Darrell Walton, a pilot with the 355th. “With so much training space here in Alaska, I couldn’t ask for better training to help get us prepared for this deployment. My mom is nervous, but I guess you have to expect that.”

The thunder rolls
ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II rolls to mark a target with simulated M-156 white phosphorus rockets as part of an aerial demonstration held here. - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael D. Morford

The A-10’s mission is to provide close-air support for ground forces and convoys. Designed for maneuverability at low speeds and low altitudes, the A-10 helps eliminate ground targets such as tanks and other armored vehicles.

“I’m extremely confident in the group of pilots that we’re deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Lt. Col. Quentin Rideout, commander of the 355th. “This is why we train. This is what Eielson’s mission is all about.”

That mission, “To fight and support the fight – any time, any place,” begins with a flight that will span three quarters of the earth before reaching Afghanistan.

Welcome to Bagram
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- A crew chief from the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, marshals an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot to a parking spot. - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric M. Grill

Good luck, guys! Stay safe and see you when you get back.

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