January 15, 2008 (by MSgt. Sean P. Houlihan) - A South Carolina based unit began arriving at the "Wolf Pack" Jan. 15 as part of an Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployment as a measure to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the Pacific region.
Lt. Col. Donald Butler touches down in F-16C block 50 #91-0379 on January 15th, 2008 at Kunsan AB. Colonel Butler is the 79th FS commander from Shaw AFB.
The 79th Fighter Squadron, one of three flying squadrons of the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. will deploy 24 'Vipers' and more than 300 Airmen to support the deployed mission here.
"The 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron will be fully integrated into all aspects of our missions, to include training with the Republic of Korea Air Force," Col. CQ "Wolf" Brown, 8th Fighter Wing commander said. "We look forward to working with them over the coming months."
The deployment of the 79th comes during an operational readiness exercise for the wing. Colonel Brown said this week's arrival is a good test of how effective the wing can accept follow-on forces.
"This deployment gives Kunsan the opportunity to practice our capability of accepting follow-on forces and gives Airmen the continued confidence that they can accomplish that part our mission if called upon," Col. Brown said.
The colonel said it takes the entire wing to accept follow-on forces. Some of the examples include security forces ensuring the base is secure enough for aircraft to land, airfield management and civil engineers ensuring the runway is free of battle damage, and services and mission support Airmen routing the new arrivals quickly through a processing line to get them housed and in processed into the base to start working.
Leading the Shaw deployment is the 79th FS
commander, Lt. Col. Don Butler who arrived via an F-16 Jan. 15. The colonel said he was looking forward to integrating with 8th Fighter Wing and Republic of Korea forces on the base as quickly as possible to accomplish the mission.
"We are deployed here to support peace and stability to the region," Col. Butler said. "We are also here to interact with our fellow Air Force (Airmen) and have a chance to fly with Korean Air Force pilots, building experience in the region that we can take back for possible follow-on contingency operations."
Colonel Butler said personally and professionally it is a great opportunity to deploy the squadron to Kunsan to prove the might of the unit.
"This deployment is proof the unit is combat ready to execute anywhere, anytime throughout the world. We train hard for a 20-month cycle and this is just a culmination of all that hard training," he said. "Being here is most beneficial to all my Tigers."
The deployment of the 79th EFS into the Pacific theater according to Col. Brown "signifies our continued commitment to regional security and stability in the region."
During the deployment Shaw Airmen will be involved in large force exercises, load competitions, intramural sports, volunteer opportunities within the local community and cultural events and tours offered through the services squadron and public affairs office.