June 19, 2007 (by SSgt. Alice Moore) - After being away for years, the 555th Fighter Squadron reunited with the 8th Fighter Wing's "Wolf Pack" during the squadron's deployment to Kunsan Air Base.
F-16's from the 555th FS, Aviano AB, arrive at Kunsan AB for their 120 day deployment.
The 555th FS
's lineage to the "Wolfpack" dates back to 1966 when the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron moved to Ubon Air Base, Thailand
to join the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Currently, based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy
, approximately 300 Airmen and 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft arrived here marking the first United States Air Forces In Europe unit to deploy to a Pacific Air Forces unit as an Air Expeditionary Force rotation for the next four months. The unit will fully integrate and be a part of the 8th FW.
"They will be integrating completely and totally with our base and our ROK (Republic of Korea) allies flying training missions here," said Col. Preston "Wolf 2" Thompson.
Colonel Thompson also discussed why units such as the 555th FS deploy to Korea.
"We run regular deployments here because it's important for us to practice our ability to move our aircraft around the world," Colonel Thompson said. "It's also important for us to show our ROK allies that we have the ability to deploy planes here quickly if they ever had a need for us to do so. So it behooves us to train to that and bring planes in here every so often to practice that capability of rapidly deploying forces here if there were ever a need."
The colonel also discussed the benefits of training with the 555th FS.
"They will be flying normal training missions that we fly everyday to give our pilots a chance to train with the pilots from our squadrons in Europe and to give our ROK allies a chance to train with other pilots other than what we have here on the peninsula," he said.
"It's a continual way for us to improve our relations and to improve our abilities as a joint force team effort."
In order to successfully receive the members of the 555th FS, many agencies within the 8th FW worked diligently to ensure there were no glitches.
"It's definitely been a challenge for all of us to prepare for their arrival," said Staff Sgt. Omar Aguilar, 8th Operations Support Squadron, NCOIC executive officer. "It's been a total team effort to get them here and we're glad to have them as part of the 8th Fighter Wing."
Wing leadership is also welcoming the team.
"We're happy to have the "Triple Nickel" as part of the "Wolf Pack," said Col. CQ "Wolf" Brown, 8th Fighter Wing commander.
Members of the 555th FS are looking forward to the experience of being deployed to Korea.
"I'm looking forward to a new experience. Usually when you deploy you start from scratch, but here you're actually apart of a wing that's already been established," said Senior Airman Amy Clunk, 555th FS Squadron Aviation Research Management. "The main challenge I see is that it's a little bit of a cultural difference coming from Europe to Asia."
The deployment of these fighter aircraft into the Pacific Command theater signifies the United States' continued commitment to the regional stability and security in the region.