Wing continues mission during Sentry Displacement
By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Shirar, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 13, 2009
Sept. 13, 2009 -- GOWEN FIELD, Idaho - The mission of the 173rd Fighter Wing is to train the best air-to-air combat pilots to fly one of the most sophisticated air defense aircraft in the world. This unit has been accomplishing that mission for many years now at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore. However, for the last four months, members of the 173rd Fighter have been performing their mission over 400 miles away from home during Sentry Displacement.
The removal and reconstruction of the old runway at Klamath Falls Airport has forced the 173rd Fighter Wing to move its flight operations to the 124th Wing at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. Twenty two F-15 Eagle aircraft and over 225 - 300 personnel from the 173rd Fighter Wing temporarily relocated to Gowen Field beginning in late April, and are scheduled to be there until early November.
Without missing a beat, aircraft were able to land in Gowen Field and the training mission was up and running.
"I feel (the transition) was fairly seamless. There is always going to be issues, but we never lost a student sortie and student training happened just like it would at home," said Major Johan Deutscher, the 114th Fighter Squadron Training Officer and Operations Group representative for Sentry Displacement.
However, this smooth transition from operations at Kingsley Field to operations at Gowen Field did not happen on its own. It took a great deal of hard work and preparation of many individuals to make it turn out as it did.
Multiple offices, briefing rooms, debriefing stations and computers all had to be set up prior to the aircraft landing so that the mission could be accomplished. In addition to all that, one of the biggest projects was preparing the aircraft ramp for the F-15s.
"We basically took a ramp with no striping on it and painted 25 aircraft positions, got them all lined up correctly so that we could land the jets and put them in a safe spot with the correct wing tip clearance," said Deutscher
Another key factor in the seamless transition was the computer set up. "We had to work with (Communications Flight) to get our database set up so that everything we did here got stored back at Klamath Falls in a correct manner. This was extremely important because we now do all of our student training grade book digitally. So that was very important for us to get done," added Deutscher.
More than fifty trucks needed to be unpacked during the set up with all the equipment and supplies needed for daily operations.
Senior Master Sgt. Rick Brown, 173rd Fighter Wing Maintenance Production Superintendent said, "The setup went fairly smooth. The people at home prepped very well to send the equipment out there and the people we had here were the right people to get the job done."
However it wasn't only the men and women of the 173rd Fighter Wing that have made this a successful deployment thus far. The support they have received from the hosting unit, the 124th Wing, has made this a successful deployment thus far.
"The people here at Boise are very welcoming and they have helped out all that they could. It has been a good transition," said Brown.
The members of the 173rd Fighter Wing have just under three months left in their deployment to Gowen Field, and once again the skies of Klamath Falls will be filled with the roar of the F-15 Eagles.
"We have learned a lot coming here. It has been a good deployment and the moral has stayed pretty high. As a unit we have learned a lot about each other," added Brown.