Ground’s Eye View

Recently some of the soldiers supported by airmen in Afghanistan got a chance to see A-10 and F-15E fighters up close and personal and talk with the airmen who fly them in close air support roles. The praise was profuse. One Pennsylvania National Guardsman, Spec. Don McGill, told the airmen: “When we were hunkering down getting hit from every side, we thought for sure we were dead. But, as soon as you guys come over head [the enemy] is gone. Without air support, we couldn’t have done a lot of things we did.” Another Guardsman, Spec. Kevin King, said: “When we hear the jets take off, the sound never gets old. When you’re in a bad situation and you hear the A-10 whistle by, it is just a relief; … it takes a lot of pressure off your chest.” For the airmen, like F-15E pilot Capt. Scott Crowell, the get together was “a humbling experience” that reinforces “how valuable our training is and helps me appreciate the danger [the ground troops] face.” As A-10 pilot Capt. Dylan Thorpe put it: “When I go out there, it really boils down to getting a guy home to his family. They come first; we really live that. We are here to serve the ground guys and that is what we do everyday.” Now, if only that sort of mutual air-land admiration would permeate Washington. (Bagram Air Field report by SSgt. Tammie Moore)