April 16, 2007 (by A1C Stefanie Torres) - Hill AFB's 34th Fighter Squadron's "Rude Rams" recently completed a deployment in direct support of homeland defense, called Operation Noble Eagle.
34th FS early version of MIB patch [Alan Aitken collection] 34th FS early version of MIB patch [Alan Aitken collection]
Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) is set up as a defense to protect the nation's soil and people against further attacks like the one terrorists used on 9-11. Air defense is now provided over the United States and Canada to conduct surveillance and control over the skies. The 34 FS
was called upon four times during Air and Space Expeditionary Force 3/4 to provide coverage in support of ONE throughout the western part of the United States.
"It was only twice the 34th FS and Aircraft Maintenance Unit operated from home station. The first ONE continuous coverage lasted for 30 hours when the President visited Salt Lake City," said Lt. Col. Thomas Smith, 34 FS commander. In late October, they provided continuous coverage in both California and Arizona. From then on into December, the squadron deployed jets and personnel to Texas to provide alert protection of the President at his ranch. The Rams deployed approximately 75 people and six jets during both off-station operations, said Colonel Smith. Ram pilots flew during the day and night and performed more than 100 air refueling missions while at Hill Air Force Base. They also conducted several intercepts, both day and night, during ONE.
"There was a single scramble at midnight on New Year's Eve while flying in Texas," said Maj. Marcus North, 34 FS assistant director of operations. "They intercepted and diverted a light civilian aircraft whose pilot had been drinking and was flying directly over the president."
The 34 FS Rude Rams became the first combat ready, operational Common Configuration Implementation Program block 40
F-16 squadron in the U.S. Air Force. The squadron has completed eight months of pilot and jet upgrades in July 2006.