'Flying Tigers' Take Mission To Afghanistan
(July 26, 2009)
|BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 22,
2009 – American volunteers flying shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks
protected China during World War II, and their legacy has
become a fixture in the war in Afghanistan.
In homage to the storied airmen of the
past, the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from
Moody Air Force Base, Ga., has the iconic shark's face
painted on the front of its A-10 Thunderbolt II's, lovingly
nicknamed the "Warthog."
A pair of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, get their final weapons check before taking off on a close-air-support mission. The aircraft provide close-air support and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for U.S. and coalition ground troops. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Lake
The Warthogs provide daily
close-air-support and precision-engagement missions
throughout Afghanistan in support of coalition ground
The squadron has had at least two aircraft airborne and
providing support to their warrior counterparts on the
ground on every day of its deployment. But the 74th Aircraft
Maintenance Unit keeps the A-10s ready to fly.
"Just like the airmen that defended China in World War II,
the 74th AMU is often short on resources, said Air Force
Capt. James Schieser, officer in charge of the squadron's
maintenance unit. The maintenance airmen make do with what
they have to maintain their aging aircraft, he added. "The
strong leadership, dedication and perseverance of our
noncommissioned officers, senior noncommissioned officers
and officer corps, are what ensure every aircraft is fully
mission-capable. The maintainers of the 74th AMU understand,
with the Flying Tiger legacy they inherited, failure is not
The Flying Tigers have broken records by flying more than
12,000 mission hours, expending more than 100 tons of
ordnance since arriving in February. Sometime, though, all
it takes is a show of force to end an engagement.
"We seek to avoid civilian casualties in all our operations
- period," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Victor
Castillo, weapons section superintendent. "We have a variety
of methods we use, including loading of precision-guided
munitions, monthly updates of aircraft digital maps and
daily maintenance of our targeting systems to ensure the
safety of innocent civilians on the ground."
But when enemy combatants don't flee after a show of force,
the Warthog can deliver a precise strike to protect
coalition ground forces.
Army Spc. Jason Dorsey, Company C, 178th Infantry, saw
firsthand the precision and power of the Warthog.
"The A-10s were a valuable asset to us on ground missions
here in Afghanistan,” Dorsey said. “Their speed and precise
targeting provided great support for us and kept the bad
guys' heads down during firefights."
"We have so many soldiers coming in from the field to thank
us - it's their stories of desperately needing air [support]
and seeing an A-10 flying overhead providing cover for them
that kept us energized and motivated," said Air Force Senior
Master Sgt. Thomas E. Moore, lead production superintendent
for the maintenance unit. "It kept us working hard even when
it seemed all we were doing was launching and recovering
By USAF Tech. Sgt. John Jung|
455th Expeditionary Wing public affairs office
Special to American Forces Press Service
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