January 16, 2009 (by SrA Russell Scalf) - With his historic flight on Jan. 7, Col. Donald "Louie" Lindberg became the first Air Force Reserve pilot of the 301st Fighter Wing to fly an F-22A Raptor mission at Holloman Air Force Base.
Col. Donald Lindberg, 44th Fighter Group commander, prepares to fly an F-22A Raptor sortie at Holloman AFB on January 8th, 2009.
The flight marked the operational arrival of the Air Force's Total Force Integration at Holloman.
"It was a great mission, the weather was beautiful, it was a great ride," said Colonel Lindberg. "It was a great way to fly an F-22."
Colonel Lindberg is the commander of the 301st Fighter Wing, Detachment 1. There is currently a request to stand up what will be the 44th Fighter Group, which be commanded by the colonel.
"The stand up is planned to take place sometime between late summer and early fall," said Colonel Lindberg. "At that time we will cease to be known as Det. 1, and will be the 44th FG."
The buildup of Air Force Reserve forces to help support the 44th FG mission is already underway. There are currently 27 reservists receiving training alongside 49th Fighter Wing Airmen.
The total number of Reserve Airmen expected to work on Holloman AFB
is approximately 270, over a three year buildup. By Nov 2009, the 44th FG plans to be fully operational and capable for deployment with four pilots and 75-80 maintainers. 75 percent of those maintainers will be fully qualified out by the 49th FW Maintenance Group.
"That number will include about 195 maintenance personnel, 12 pilots and a medical flight of about 26," said Colonel Lindberg. "It will also include personnel support in areas such as communications, logistics, services and security. We have been hiring at a rate of seven to eight people per month, and hope to have 90 by June."
The 44th FG mission is to develop and retain combat-ready citizen Airmen. Many of the arriving Airmen are highly experienced prior service members. Maintenance positions are often filled by F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon maintainers with five and seven skill level certifications. After being assigned to Holloman, they then receive F-22 training from 49th FW personnel. A smaller percentage will, however, receive formal technical school training.
"We are getting a lot of spouses who are separated prior service, and some active duty palace chase applicants," said Master Sgt. Valerie James, an in-service recruiter at Holloman. "There has also been a lot of interest from prior service members in Albuquerque, N.M. and El Paso, Texas. I'm confident we will fill the unit."
The 44th FG is expected to be a full partner with the 49th FW in deployment taskings.
"We may not necessarily fully mobilize for deployment, but we expect at minimum an 80 percent volunteer rate for deployment taskings," said Colonel Lindberg. "We are planning to set ourselves up to be the second or third package to go to war, with the 49th FW."
Cooperation and understanding between 49th FW Airmen and 44th FG Airmen in the
coming months will be critical to the success of the Total Force Integration at Holloman AFB.
"I've been in the Reserves for 17 years, and I've seen a lot of total force initiatives at Langley AFB, Va., Shaw AFB, S.C., Tyndall AFB, Fla. and at Luke AFB, Ariz.," said Colonel Lindberg. "I've never seen or worked with more supportive, forward thinking, and enlightened regular Air Force leadership. Because of that, they've translated the message to the Airmen of the 49th FW and Team Holloman. Our support here has been phenomenal. TFI envisions a full partnership between the regular Air Force and the Reserves, we believe we can take two good components and make one great one."