January 12, 2008 (by TSgt. Kevin Williams) - Nearly 300 20th FW Airmen and about 20 F-16s from the 79th FS deployed January 12th to the Pacific Air Forces theater of operations as part a four-month Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) rotation.
A 79th FS pilot in F-16C block 50 #00-0223 departs Shaw's runway for a deployment to the Pacific Air Forces theater of operations January 12th, 2008.
This deployment is different from those in the past because the F-16s left at the same time as all the support personnel. They will deploy for approximately four months.
Airmen gathered early in the morning at the Chandler Deployment Processing Center before stepping onto a DC-10 and off to their destination. The pilots stepped to their F-16s from the 79th FS
and took off prior to the DC-10.
Families gathered at the DPC to say one last goodbye before their loved ones departed to the other side of the world.
"He's really excited about going," said Megan Youngblood, wife of Airman 1st Class Michael Youngblood, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron.
"As a wife, his being excited is both good and bad. Good because I know he loves his job and this is what he signed on to do ... bad because I don't want him to be happy leaving me behind," she said. "But I know he'll miss me and I'm glad he's doing something he loves. I'm really proud of him."
The U.S. routinely evaluates its readiness and repositions forces under the Theater Security Package maintaining the capabilities necessary to meet military obligations in the PACAF
theater of operations.
"This deployment into PACAF signifies the U.S. commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region," said Lt. Col. Don Butler, 79th FS
This deployment is even more significant because the 20th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. James Post, is also deploying.
"This is a proud moment for me as the wing commander," said Colonel Post. "To deploy with the Airmen under my command is one of the highlights of my career. Every Shaw Airman is ready to answer any challenge from anywhere in the world, and the American people can rest assured we have the greatest Air Force in the world."