March 17, 1997 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Six F-16 Falcons and 155 people from the 77th Fighter Squadron and 20th Fighter Wing joined the 4th Air Expeditionary Wing in Doha, Qatar.
The deployment started Feb. 19 and was executed in less than 48 hours to this small country on the eastern coast of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. Shaw's F-16s flew 15 hours nonstop with 16 air refuelings from four Air Mobility Command tankers.
The majority of the deploying force arrived via two C-5 Galaxy and one C-141
Starlifter transports. All missions arrived safely in the AOR, but not necessarily at Doha where weather forced the F-16s to divert to Bahrain
. The first challenge of the newly formed 4th AEW was to finish the deployment from Bahrain, an island just to the north of Qatar.
Within a few hours of the jets landing at Bahrain, a deployed C-130 Hercules transport plane loaded with equipment and personnel arrived. After an hour on the ground the C-130 and diverted F-16s flew to Doha. The deployed forces met their initial objective of flying combat sorties in support of Operation Southern Watch 12 hours later.