October 12, 2016 (by SSgt. Joe McFadden) - Hundreds of families reunited with Airmen assigned to the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron during the squadron’s return to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, October 12, 2016.
USAF F-16C block 50 #91-0361 assigned to the 480th EFS taxis on the flightline at Spangdahlem AB on October 6th, 2016. The 480th EFS completed a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia in of support Operation Inherent Resolve. [USAF photo by SrA. Dawn M. Weber]
Approximately 300 of the Airmen, who serve in flight, maintenance or support roles for the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, completed a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia by providing close air support and dynamic targeting operations as part of the squadron’s first deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“It feels amazing for everybody to be back here,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Murphy, 480th EFS commander. “We’re obviously flying in some really hostile territory and to bring all the pilots back safe and sound and here is an amazing thing, and the whole team being back together is a great thing that we wanted to do.”
During the deployment, coalition forces regained 10,000 square-kilometers and liberated up to five cities including a supply center that Da'esh terrorists captured during their campaign within Iraq
and Syria, Murphy said.
He also said the maintenance team generated more sorties than any previous F-16 squadron, resulting in more support, weapons and effects for ground forces.
“It is an incredible testimony to the quality of our daily Air Force training that they were able to step in and execute at such a high level for six months,” Murphy said. “Seeing this group have such success demonstrates the tradition of excellence that defines our Air Force."
The squadron, aided by the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group, also broke an Air Force record Sept. 16, 2016, when they dropped their 1,900th precision-guided munition, thus exceeding the most amount ever delivered by an F-16 unit within a six-month period.
“A huge amount of the bombs that made up that record and the progress we made on the ground is really due to those guys being willing to put in those extra hours and those extra extensions and everything that goes behind it,” Murphy said. “We couldn’t have done it without the team we had.”
Having said goodbye April 7, 2016, families gathered again at Hangar One to greet the returning Airmen with open arms, uniquely designed posters and even new family members born during the deployment.
Murphy concluded by highlighting the legacy of Airman 1st Class Nathaniel McDavitt, an F-16 tactical aircraft maintainer, who was killed in a weather-related incident April 15, 2016, during the deployment.
“It’s a tough thing for all of us,” Murphy said. “But all of the accomplishments I just talked about, they honored his memory in the absolute best way they possibly could. I know he’s unbelievably proud of what they did and what the team did. Again, we’re happy to be back but we’re never going to forget him and the effort he put into it as well.”