JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, also known as the Bulldogs, returned from Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 8 after a five-month deployment to support Pacific Air Forces’ efforts to bring more advanced fighter aircraft forward to the western Pacific while Kadena Air Base’s F-15C Eagles began their journey back to the United States.
As personnel arrived at the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, they were greeted by cheers and applause from their families and fellow service members. It was a heartwarming moment seeing the signs held up by children awaiting their parent’s return, and tears of joy flowed freely as the service members hugged their loved ones.
JBER Raptors, maintainers, and support personnel were the first rotational unit to arrive at Kadena in support of the F-15C divestiture.
“Learning how to settle into Kadena Air Base’s new normal for the next few years was a learning process both for us as the temporary unit and team Kadena as the host unit,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Tromans, the 525th FS commander. “Most of our challenges involved adapting to that new normal and making sure we set sustainable processes in place for future units.”
For families of service members, the return home of their loved ones is a momentous occasion. They eagerly await the arrival of their loved ones and look forward to spending quality time together after a long period of separation.
For the Bulldogs, their return home marks the end of a challenging but successful mission.
“One challenge we consistently faced was how to balance traditional readiness enhancing training while also meeting our responsibilities to the Major and Combatant Commanders,” said Tromans. “We meticulously tracked and balanced our pilot’s training opportunities while deployed to ensure that balance.”
Despite these challenges, the Bulldogs remained focused and ready to provide air superiority to Combatant Commanders, anytime and anywhere.
During their deployment, the Bulldogs supported four forward deployments, conducted 32 higher headquarters taskings in support of joint and multinational partners, and conducted local training with other Kadena-based assets. Their Expeditionary Fighter Squadron team included 299 active-duty and reserve personnel from eight different JBER squadrons.
They also generated and flew 1,100 sorties, integrating with both joint and ally & partner nation Air Force forces while simultaneously supporting Operations IRON SHADOW and IRON EXPRESS, Exercise Agile Reaper 23-1, and the USAF F-22 demonstration team at the Avalon Australia International Trade Show.
The Bulldogs also showcased F-22 Raptors on the Korean Peninsula for the first time in five years, and in the Philippines and Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for the first time ever.
“Our personnel carried out their air dominance mission with precision, professionalism, and dedication, making a significant contribution to the security and stability of the region," said U.S. Air Force Col Kevin "Jinx" Jamieson, the 3rd Wing commander. "I am incredibly proud of everyone who played a part in this mission, and their hard work and sacrifice have contributed to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The 355th Fighter Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base replaced the Bulldogs, and Tromans hopes that their lessons learned made their establishment of operations easier than theirs.
“Everything the Bulldogs did at Kadena was done in that mindset; get the process correct, document it, and pass it on to our replacements,” said Tromans. “I know that Lt. Col. Michael Mickus’ team’s lessons learned will do the same for his replacements.
As the Bulldogs settle back into their normal routine, they are grateful for the support of their families and the community. They know that their loved ones have endured the challenges of separation and supported them every step of the way.
The homecoming was a moment of joy, relief, and gratitude for both the service members and their families. It was a reminder that their sacrifices and service to the country are appreciated and valued.
Welcome home, Bulldogs.