December 9, 2011 (by SrA Jessica Hines) - As nature's largest land mammal, the elephant can travel swiftly in almost complete silence.
F-16s from both the 35th and 80th FS of the 8th FW, as well as from the 466th FS of the 419th FW at Hill AFB, demonstrate an elephant walk formation as they taxi down a runway during an exercise at Kunsan AB on December 2nd, 2011. [USAF photo by SSgt. Rasheen Douglas]
Collectively or alone, it can cause destruction or provide protection. Massive displays of power, strength and pride -- elephants have been epitomized in war, culture, religion and mythology, sometimes simply referred to as "behemoth".
It is no surprise that a collective display of capability and teamwork presenting Kunsan Air Base's assembly of aircraft prepared for war time operations would be referred to as an "Elephant Walk".
It was an early day for load crew Airmen of the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Dec. 2, who arrived to work as usual and carried out their duties in accordance with mission requirements.
"What I see is within these hangars," said Senior Airman Anthony Robertson, 8th AMXS weapons load crew team member.
"We received word to prepare the aircraft," Robertson added. "Our focus it to load the aircraft with live ammunition for operations during wartime or exercise operations."
Dec. 2 may have been just another day in the office for these Airmen, who regularly practice aircraft generation and maintenance during the wing's multiple operational readiness exercises, which test all Airmen's ability to respond in war time operations.
But this wasn't just another day.
"What we've done today is essentially generated aircraft for combat exactly as we would do in war time," said Col. Craig Leavitt, 8th Operations Group commander.
"So all the aircraft you see are armed exactly as they would be in war time," Leavitt continued, referring to the gathering of Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 8th Fighter Wing and from Kunsan's theater support package here temporarily assigned from the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on the Kunsan AB flight line.
The aircraft swept out of the hangars, one by one, joining together as an imperial march down the flight line. An overture of power and strength, and ultimately a reflection of the training and team work brought together on behalf of the 8th FW for the Republic of Korea.
"For actually generating the aircraft, we had to go across three squadrons and roughly 1,300 personnel, who included our TSP from Hill AFB
and bring together the generation of all the aircraft we saw here today," said Col. Dane West, 8th Maintenance Group commander.
The aircraft, however, did not take flight. The efforts were coordinated to bring all aspects of the wing's wartime operational practices into one fluid act for a wartime response exercise.
"A lot of time we only practice pieces and parts of the overall mission, today we've essentially practiced every step we need to do right up until take off," said Leavitt.
In all, from beginning to end, the exercise was comparatively short to other base or peninsula-wide exercises, but was successfully executed by Airmen from across the Wolf Pack.
"When it comes down to it, we wanted to improve how well we generate aircraft," Leavitt said.
"We're building confidence in all the teams we have across the wing, as to when we are actually called to duty," added Leavitt. "We can do exactly what is expected of us and more."