HomeNewsArticle Display

13th AMU excited, nervous and ready to deploy

070413-MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, stands by while a 13th Fighter Squadron pilot does his pre-flight check on his F-16 Wild Weasel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert Barnett)

070413-MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, stands by while a 13th Fighter Squadron pilot does his pre-flight check on his F-16 Wild Weasel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert Barnett)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- For those deploying for the first time, it's exciting and nerve-wracking, but they are ready to put their everyday training into play to support the Global War on Terrorism, and relieve their counterparts in Iraq. 

"I didn't think I would be going so soon, but I'm really excited," said Airman 1st Class Matthew Popp, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft armament technician, who arrived at Misawa in October. As an aircraft armament technician, the one-year veteran loads munitions and ammunition on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and maintains the equipment that launches the weapons. 

The Minnesota native said although he's nervous, the training he has received leading up to his deployment this month has been a big help. 

"I've been doing more PT (physical training)," said Airman Popp. "We've gone through ESCT (Expeditionary Skills Combat Training). It gives us a good basis to stump stuff that might happen while we're there in the area of responsibility." 

The 13th AMU will be supporting the 13th Fighter Squadron when they swap out with 14th Fighter Squadron at Balad Air Base, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq. Before deploying, Airmen must now receive combat skills training. Pacific Air Forces contracted a mobile training team of six instructors to training PACAF personnel postured against upcoming Air Expeditionary Force cycles. 

"They (instructors) taught some Army training - high and low crawl, basic convoy training, and UXO (unexploded ordnance) sweeps," said Airman Popp. "It helped out quite a bit."
Participating in Exercise Red Flag, the Operational Readiness Exercise in February, the Operational Readiness Inspection in March and supporting a very aggressive flying schedule for the 13th FS pilots AEF training, have all contributed to the unit's preparedness to deploy, said 1st Lt. Tony Christensen, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who is deploying for the first time as well. 

"We are definitely ready to hit the road and start doing our nation's business," she said. "I'm very excited about deploying. This is what we train to do everyday and it is gratifying that we will get to see all that training finally put to the test." 

Exercises at Misawa every other month have also prepared the team mentally and physically, said Airman 1st Class Jonathan Torres, 13th AMU aircraft armament technician, also a first-time deployer. "Not only do we have to do our job, but we must wear items like the gas mask, helmet, canteen, flak vest with Kevlar and Teflon; that's about 10 pounds," said Airman Torres. "I think that alone has prepared us to go downrange." 

Other preparation exercises included temporary duties to Alaska and Nevada, which was "a great opportunity for the pilots, but our maintainers were also able to hone their skills during munitions loading as well as maintaining the targeting pods," said Capt. Kenneth Fravor, 13th AMU officer in charge. Targeting pods allow the pilots to see detailed images of the ground, day or night, and to employ laser guided bombs and global positioning system-guided weapons. 

"My unit is ready to make sure our pilots have safe, properly configured and reliable F-16s to drop bombs on their intended targets," said the captain, who will deploy for the fifth time. 

Talking with the 14th AMU at least weekly, getting feedback on what to bring and what to expect has also aided the squadron, said Lieutenant Christensen. "The team over there has provided lots of information and tips," she said. "We have made some adjustments for our plan based on the 14th AMU's inputs - mostly on what we should bring with us."
The unit has been working longer hours since the beginning of the year. 

"We've taken great steps to ensure our people and their families are prepared for this deployment," said the lieutenant. 

From a well-maintained RAV (Readiness Assistant Advisor) program, regular gatherings and town hall meetings to field concerns and answering questions for the spouses to unit deployment and training managers ensuring the Airmen are properly trained to being equipped, preparation has been ongoing, said Lieutenant Christensen. 

"We are definitely ready," she said. "This is what our country has called on us to do. I would rather go with no other unit than the Panthers!"

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.