January 7, 2008 (by 388th FW) - Approximately 300 personnel from the active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing deployed December 29 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0428 (marked 388th OG) from the 421st FS and deployed with the 421st EFS to Balad AB, patrols the Iraqi desert during an OIF mission on September 3rd, 2004.
The Airmen will make up the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and deploy to the region for at least 120 days as a part of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotation.
The primary mission for pilots, maintainers and support personnel of the "Black Widows" squadron will be to employ the F-16 Fighting Falcon in close air support missions to protect coalition ground forces.
"The Airmen of the 421st FS
are fully prepared to bring air power to the fight," said 388th FW Commander, Col. Scott Dennis. "They are dedicated, professional and hard working. I trust the unit will make great contributions to our nation's defense."
The 421st FS is one of three deployable fighter squadrons in the 388th FW. The unit will replace the wing's 4th Fighter Squadron in the theater and use aircraft recently upgraded under the Common Configuration Implementation Program.
Reservists from the 419th FW volunteered to deploy with both squadrons and will continue to deploy with the 388th FW during future rotations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
"As Citizen Airmen, we stand ready to serve alongside our active duty counterparts," said Col. Gary Batinich, 419th FW commander. "Our deploying reservists look forward to using their experience and training to support this important mission."
This rotation marks the third time the 421st FS has deployed to the Central Command area of operations in support of OIF.