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Misawa deploys to Red Flag

MISAWA AB, Japan -- Pilots, maintainers and support crew from the 13th Fighter Squadron deployed to Red Flag at Nellis AFB last week for realistic combat training prior to their deployment this summer.

Approximately 10 F-16s, two KC-10s and 150 Airmen left Misawa for their journey over the Pacific Ocean, making a stop in Hawaii prior to their final destination in Las Vegas.

Red Flag, which runs from Jan. 18-26, includes U.S. and foreign pilots who will gain the experience of having their first few "combat" sorties prior to flying during their Air Expeditionary Force rotation.

"Red Flag got its start in November 1975 to give pilots their first combat experience. We found many years ago that most of our new pilots were lost on their first couple combat sorties," said Brig. Gen. Sam Angelella, 35th Fighter Wing commander. "Red Flag gets the first few 'combat' sorties under their belt in a training environment and prepares them for success while deployed."

Prior to the squadron's early-morning departure, Lt. Col. Steve Williams, 13th FS commander gave his pilots a "step brief," which is meant to provide deployers with any last minute information and reminders for a successful sortie.

During the step brief the colonel reviewed information about tanker refueling, arrival procedures, safety, weather, divert bases, emphasized good communication and what to do in case of an emergency.
At the conclusion of the briefing, Col. Nelson Cabot, 35th Operations Group commander and General Angelella told the pilots to "do good, fly safe and enjoy."
For some pilots, this is their first deployment. First Lt. Tommy Tauer, 13th FS pilot, said he's excited for Red Flag.

"For a new wingman like me, Red Flag will be a great learning experience," he said. "We'll be getting good training in close air support and with joint tactical air controllers from the Army, which is what we'll need for our deployment next summer."

The squadron will come back one step closer to being ready for their AEF cycle. Red Flag will be eye-opening and good training, according to Colonel Williams.

"If you compare Red Flag with actual combat, on a scale of one through 10, Red Flag is a nine," said the colonel. "It's ideal realistic training."