Four Years Straight:

For the fourth year in a row, the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., has deployed to Southwest Asia, where one of the EC-130H Compass Call crews flew the unit’s 2,276th combat sortie on March 18. The flight advanced the squadron’s total flying hours for the war on terror beyond 15,624 hours. “We always have a good sense of accomplishment for the mission we do here,” said 43rd ECS flight engineer MSgt. Tony Acciani. The 43rd ECS and the 41st ECS, both part of the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan, share duties in SWA, where they’ve been continuously deployed since 2004. Only last year, the 55th ECG reactivated the 42nd ECS to serve as a dedicated Compass Call training unit to provide some relief for the heavily tasked 41st and 43rd. Deploying with the air and mission crews, a combination of blue suit and civilian EC-130H maintainers manage to keep the unit’s near 40-year-old aircraft flying. One such civilian, retired airman Derek Green, who is on his seventh SWA deployment, said, “We go where they go and take pride in what we do.” Congress has taken note of the high use of the Compass Call contingent, criticizing the Air Force in a recent Roles and Missions Panel report over what lawmakers view as a lack of attention to upgrading both the airframe and the critical communications jamming equipment it hosts. (Includes SWA report by TSgt. Michael O’Connor)