Selfridge Airmen fly in Snowbird, Angel Thunder

  • Published
  • By MSgt. David Kujawa
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs

Approximately 180 Airmen from various units of the 127th Wing deployed to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., during April and May 2014. The deployment consists of two operations, the first being Operation Snowbird, was conducted April 25-May 3. The second mission is Angel Thunder, operating May 5-16.

While the deployed Airmen are from numerous units around the 127th Wing, the bulk of the personnel are members of the 127th Maintenance Group and 107th Fighter Squadron, which maintain and operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Operation Snowbird allows U.S. military flying units and allied partners to take advantage of the optimal weather conditions and ample live-fire ranges available in southern Arizona. Many of the environments available in the training scenario mirror what deployed Airmen might expect to encounter in areas of responsibility of the Central Command theater.

Despite the harsh sun, the men and women of the 127th Wing were professional and extremely proficient in meeting objectives of the deployments to Arizona.

"Despite being faced with the countless challenges of operating from a deployed location, the A-10s accomplished all of the goals set forth," said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Fetty of the 127th Maintenance Squadron.

Ten A-10s from Selfridge participated in the Snowbird exercise, with A-10 pilots recording more than 300 hours of total flight time and expending several different types of munitions.

Providing attack airpower and producing highly-trained A-10 pilots and logistical support units to meet the Air Force's strategic requirements is Operation Snowbird's training objective. Fetty said after three years of participation in Snowbird, with the A-10s, Selfridge Airmen members have proven themselves truly able to live up to the wing's motto: "We Stand Ready!"

By deploying to the Air Force Base in Arizona, Selfridge Airmen also have an opportunity to train and work together in a high-tempo environment.

"Coming together as an organization and training as an overall unit is what we are doing during this deployment," said Lt. Col. Shawn Holtz, 107th FS commander. "As the 127th Wing continues to work collectively as one unit we will ensure our readiness to fly, fight and win in support of the joint fight."

Angel Thunder is the world's largest personnel recovery exercise, training well over 2,000 participants in a wide range of search and rescue skills. The various training exercises of the operation take place in and over Arizona, New Mexico and California. The A-10, originally designed for close air support, provides an ideal platform to provide support to rescue operations in potential close proximity to opposition ground forces. The A-10 can also provide airborne command and control support to rescue operations.

Operation Snowbird provides support for U.S. military flying units and allied partners deployed for training. Southern Arizona provides optimal weather conditions and ample ranges that mirror the environment found downrange. OSB hosts an average of 10-12 units per year with 2 -12 aircraft per visit for an average of two weeks.

Angel Thunder 2014 is the largest and most realistic joint service, multinational, interagency combat search and rescue exercise designed to provide training for personnel recovery assets using a variety of scenarios to simulate deployment conditions and contingencies. Personnel recovery forces will train through the full spectrum of personnel recovery capabilities with ground recovery personnel, air assets, special forces teams and federal agents. The exercise will be conducted May 4-17 and will execute training scenarios from the Pacific Ocean to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.