Story and photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. — Nearly 300 personnel and a dozen F-16s, from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, have returned from an Air Expeditionary Force rotation to Southwest Asia earlier this month.
The entire maintenance and support team racked up some very impressive production numbers, proving once again that they are their best when the iron is needed most. Their hard work culminated in a combined mission capable rate of 87 percent, which was the highest in the AOR for that time period.
All-in-all more than 740 flight hours was accumulated in more than 670 sorties. The scheduled maintenance effectiveness rate was 98 percent, which was among the best in AFCENT and resulted in no missed sorties due to maintenance issues.
“Once again the Swampfox has answered our nation’s call in grand form and was ready to execute any of its primarily tasked missions of Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), Defensive Counter-Air (DCA) and Close Air Support (CAS), if tasked,” said Lt. Col. Akshai Gandhi, deployed 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander.
Swampfox Airmen also made their temporary home a better place by stepping out of their normal duties and provided the muscle power needed to complete a variety of base projects. Their efforts significantly improved living conditions for all base personnel, said Gandhi.
“It is a true honor to be associated with this group of great Americans,” said Gandhi.
Though this was the first deployment for some of the Airmen, most Swampfox veterans have completed multiple deployments over the past 24 years; dating back to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991.
“This fighter wing has a long and proud heritage of answering our nation’s call,” said Col. David Meyer, 169th Fighter Wing commander. “I couldn’t be more proud of our citizen Airmen for the sacrifices they and their families make to serve their country and the state of South Carolina.”
Meyer added that this most recent deployment caps the end of a four-year period that included F-16 participation in three Southwest Asia AEF deployments, two major inspections from the Air Combat Command’s Inspector General and two NORAD inspections. All was accomplished while simultaneously maintaining the 24/7 Aerospace Control Alert mission and sending other Airmen around the world on various AEF deployments.
Since 2010, the 169th Fighter Wing has deployed personnel to many areas in Southwest Asia. In 2010, more than 300 Airmen generated more than 800 combat missions over Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2012, more than 600 Airmen were deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they generated 2,194 combat sorties and 10,000 combat hours in just five months.
“In each case, the Swampfox has stood out as a premier unit and set new standards,” said Meyer. “This operational tempo performed to the level that our Airmen consistently achieve is truly exceptional. Semper Primus!”