May 28, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - This past Sunday saw the 522nd FS 'Fireballs' depart for there final deployment from Cannon Air Force base. This time to the island of Guam. On there return the Squadron & Fighter Wing will be inactivated.
F-16s from the 522nd EFS are seen arriving at Andersen AFB, Guam on May 30th, 2007.
The 522nd are part of a group of airmen who will spend approximately four months based in the Pacific theatre according to Cannon Public Affairs spokesperson Lt. George Tobias.
Tobias went on to say Sunday’s deployment marks the last major deployment before the 27th Fighter Wing is inactivated September 30th. The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) will assume command of the base as of October 1st.
Upon returning from the deployment, the 522nd Fighter Squadron will be inactivated, Tobias said. The Fireballs will be the last squadron to be inactivated from the base this year. The 523rd Fighter Squadron, the 'Crusaders', which were inactivated May 10th, while the block 40s from the 524th have been dispursed to other units.
Lt. Col. Tod Fingal the 522nd Fighter Squadron Commander described the final deployment as bittersweet.
"The 27th Fighter Wing has a legacy at Cannon," Fingal said, "but the transition to AFSOC is great for west Texas, New Mexico and the Air Force".
Fingal, who has been based at Cannon for four years, said Cannon airmen will train with foreign allies and other military services during the deployment. "We're out here to train in the Pacific area of operation and it gives us an opportunity to train to simulate some of the threats in this AOR as well as give our pilots some opportunity to utilize the airspace that we have in and around Guam."
"We (Cannon airmen) have been training for this deployment for a year,” Fingal said, "including two exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas."
The US military was quoted as saying this deployment is not an aggressive measure and not in response to any particular situation. Future plans include the move 8,000 Marines and 10,000 dependents from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam by 2014 as part of a global realignment of U.S. forces.
Guam has had a U.S. military presence to varying degrees since 1898, when U.S. naval forces captured it from Spain.