September 20, 2013 (by SSgt. Alexandria Mosness) - Families and friends gathered to welcome home approximately 400 20th Fighter Wing Airmen from a five-month deployment to Osan AB, Republic of Korea, September 19.
A maintainer assigned to the 20th AMXS assists an Air Force F-16 pilot assigned to the 55th FS park and deplane after landing at Shaw AFB on September 18, 2013. The 55th FS has just completed a six-month deployment at Osan Air Base, South Korea. [USAF photo by MSgt. Cohen A. Young]
"The 55th (Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit) was deployed to Osan AB, ROK, to provide the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea commanders additional combat airpower in order to bolster regional security," said Lt. Col. Chris Claus, 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. "We were there to demonstrate America's resolve to support our allies, deter our enemies and to complement the already impressive combat capabilities inherent in the 51st Operations Group (stationed at Osan AB, ROK)."
While their time was brief in South Korea
, the 55th Fighter Squadron pilots honed their counterair skills with more than 1,300 training flights, Claus added. The 55th FS
was also the key offensive counterair experts for Exercise MAX THUNDER, a 2-week combined 7th Air Force and Republic of Air Force "Red Flag".
"We focused on missions designed to destroy enemy air defenses," Claus continued. "We excelled in several large force exercises with U.S. and Korean air forces, participated in the largest Korean air exercise ever and accomplished an operational readiness exercise. We integrated seamlessly into peninsula-wide exercises."
For one returning Airmen, the best thing was seeing his family's happy faces, said Tech. Sgt. Thad Burton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons expeditor.
"Knowing my family is here waiting for me is what helped get me through the deployment," he added. "I'm happy to be home."