Misawa's 13th Fighter Squadron deploys to S. Korea
by Master Sgt. Allison Day
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/20/2009 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The pilots of the 13th Fighter Squadron deployed, Feb. 23, to the Republic of Korea with the main body following early this week.
More than 300 Airmen will support the 13th FS in an effort to balance assets to support regional stability in the Asia-Pacific theater and meet the needs of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
"The Panthers are deploying within the Pacific Command theater consistent with our efforts to maintain stability for our allies," said Lt. Col. Jay Aanrud, 13th FS commander prior to his squadron's deployment. "As always we are trained, equipped and ready to fulfill our mission regardless of the location. It will be a difficult set of challenges, but the mission set is aligned with our primary role in the Pacific. We look forward to providing air power to the combatant commander."
Although the Panthers were expecting to deploy to the Middle East, their mission in Korea is no less important, according to Colonel Aanrud. By supporting the Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea, the 13th FS offers significant air power on demand.
This deployment marks Colonel Aanrud's fifth deployment; however, it marks the first for several individuals within the squadron.
"It will be my first deployment," said 1st Lt. Cory Farrer, 13th FS pilot. "It is difficult to leave my wife and children. Despite the difficulties of separation, I am looking forward to experiencing my first deployment."
Even though the deployment is not far from Misawa, the distance does not lessen the sacrifices of servicemembers and their families.
"Regardless of the location, a deployment implies separation from our families and this deployment will be for an extended period of time," said Colonel Aanrud. "It's always a challenge when we are separated from friends and loved ones, but it's also a part of the Air Force that makes it unique and rewarding."
However, according to Colonel Aanrud, they can leave knowing the support their families receive here at Misawa is exceptional.
"I am grateful for a strong church and military family that I know will provide any help for my family while gone," said Lieutenant Farrer, a Brigham City, Utah, native.
Regardless of rank and experience, families provide essential emotional support, giving every mission greater purpose and meaning, according to Colonel Aanrud.
"I'm encouraged by the efforts of my wife, Janet, and our daughter, Jordan, and all the spouses and families who support each other," said Colonel Aanrud. "They impress me with their fortitude and ability to overcome the challenges of living overseas together, and I have no doubt they'll rise to the occasion this time as well."
The Panthers have received accolades for their performance, said Colonel Aanrud. Being named the top small unit on Misawa Air Base last year illustrates the level of performance they bring to the fight.
"I am extremely proud of the 13th FS as well as our sortie generation team throughout the maintenance group," said Colonel Aanrud. "We have an opportunity to deploy, generate air power and execute our tactics as a team. We will strive to excel in 2009 as much as we did in 2008."