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Commander' s Column

5/4/2012 - Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- It has been a month since our aviation package deployed and they are all doing well overseas. More about them shortly, first let me go over this weekend's activities here at home. This drill we will take time to remember those who have served before us, through a few memorial services. The first will be for Maj. Bruce 'Sabre' Bannick, one of our former A-10 pilots who passed away a short time ago. He will be remembered at a memorial event being held on Saturday in Haydenville, Mass. Following that service, we as a wing will take time to remember the 12 members whose names are inscribed on the F-100 memorial. Annually we as a wing celebrate the lives of these fallen heroes; reflecting on their service and their dedication. As we remember those who have served before us, we are also conscious of those who are overseas preserving the freedoms we enjoy. The following information is being provided from our team overseas.

Paraphrased from Lt. Col. Haldopoulos, deployed Commander of the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron:   The unit is performing very well despite the limitations of deployed life. The jets are performing very well due to the dedication of the maintenance teams. The deployed Wing Commander commented on the unit's performance so far in the exercise here, " I have been part of many of these type of exercises, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as good as it gets". Need I say more? We are preparing for the next leg of our mission, participating in Exercise EAGER LION. Unfortunately the exercise location may not be as communication-friendly, so our connectivity to you and our families may be interrupted/limited for the month of May. We appreciate all the support we have received from the Wing and our families, and we can't wait to get home.

Paraphrased from Maj. Dibrindisi, deployed Maintenance Commander:  We are working a very aggressive schedule, many members are working 6 days a week for 12 hour shifts, but the schedule makes the time fly. Our morale is high due to the good in-place infrastructure here, as well as the opportunity to talk to our families. We are experiencing some very high-temperatures, (triple digits), and anticipate the temperature to rise near 140 degrees as we approach summer. Some of our folks are getting a chance to get off base, and we will try to share some photos of our adventures, but there are Operational Security precautions we all need to adhere to.

I want to conclude this article with our way-forward. We will be gearing up for the Operational Readiness Inspection in October 2013, and in order to be ready, we will be conducting a number of Operational Readiness Exercises (some Phase I, some II and some combined). Below is our long range ORE schedule for preparing for the ORI (combination of UTA's combined with AFT when needed):

Oct 2012: C2 Exercise
Nov 2012: Phase II ORE (4 day)
Jan 2013: Phase I ORE
Apr 2013: Phase I & II ORE (6 day)
Jun 2013: Phase I & II ORE (6 day)
Aug 2013: Back-up Phase I & II
Sep 2013: ORI Dress rehearsal (6 Day)
1st*Oct 2013 UTA: ORI Prep
2nd Oct 2013 UTA: ORI (8 day)

The only way to be prepared is to practice, practice, practice! Please stay focused and be safe!