Swan Songs

Airmen of two units participated in final exercises as the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., and the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., prepare to close down. The 33rd FW sent an F-15 force to Savannah, Ga., earlier this month for East Coast Dissimilar Aircraft Training. “The maintainers prepped and repaired the mighty Eagle jets while the Eagle drivers meticulously cleared the skies of all hostile adversaries while protecting our fellow Navy and Air Force aviators as they destroyed their ground base objectives,” said Col. Jeffery Gustafson, 33rd FW vice commander. Col. Glenn Ferguson, 33rd Maintenance Group commander, noted that the unit’s maintainers “produced an average 95.7 percent aircraft mission capability rate for all deployed aircraft, 14.7 percent higher than standard.” The 33rd FW is deactivating as Eglin picks up the F-35 joint schoolhouse mission. For the 63rd FS, the last deployment came in late April, when unit airmen participated in Exercise Balikatan ’09 in the Philippines, flying F-16 close air support training missions with other service and Philippine ground controllers. Just getting there was half the battle, according to Lt. Col. Jack Maixner, 63rd FS commander, who said, “We re-learned that logistics is key to any operation.” The 63rd FS stood down on May 22. (Eglin report by Chrissy Cuttita; Luke report by SrA. Tong Duong)