Theodore's World: ‘Flying Tigers’ Take Mission to Afghanistan

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July 23, 2009

‘Flying Tigers’ Take Mission to Afghanistan

Air Staff Sgt. James Irvin performs an air-cycle machine inspection on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to ensure the A-10 Thunderbolt functions properly, July 20, 2009. Irvin is deployed from the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Felicia Juenke


A pair of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, get their final weapons check before taking off on a close-air-support mission. The aircraft provide close-air support and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for U.S. and coalition ground troops. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Lake

‘Flying Tigers’ Take Mission to Afghanistan


July 22, 2009

by Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Jung serves with the 455th Expeditionary Wing public affairs office

American volunteers flying shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks protected China during World War II, and their legacy has become a fixture in the war in Afghanistan.

In homage to the storied airmen of the past, the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., has the iconic shark’s face painted on the front of its A-10 Thunderbolt II's, lovingly nicknamed the "Warthog."

The Warthogs provide daily close-air-support and precision-engagement missions throughout Afghanistan in support of coalition ground forces.

The squadron has had at least two aircraft airborne and providing support to their warrior counterparts on the ground on every day of its deployment. But the 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit keeps the A-10s ready to fly.

"Just like the airmen that defended China in World War II, the 74th AMU is often short on resources, said Air Force Capt. James Schieser, officer in charge of the squadron’s maintenance unit. The maintenance airmen make do with what they have to maintain their aging aircraft, he added. "The strong leadership, dedication and perseverance of our noncommissioned officers, senior noncommissioned officers and officer corps, are what ensure every aircraft is fully mission-capable. The maintainers of the 74th AMU understand, with the Flying Tiger legacy they inherited, failure is not an option."

The Flying Tigers have broken records by flying more than 12,000 mission hours, expending more than 100 tons of ordnance since arriving in February. Sometime, though, all it takes is a show of force to end an engagement.

"We seek to avoid civilian casualties in all our operations - period," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Victor Castillo, weapons section superintendent. "We have a variety of methods we use, including loading of precision-guided munitions, monthly updates of aircraft digital maps and daily maintenance of our targeting systems to ensure the safety of innocent civilians on the ground."

But when enemy combatants don't flee after a show of force, the Warthog can deliver a precise strike to protect coalition ground forces.

Army Spc. Jason Dorsey, Company C, 178th Infantry, saw firsthand the precision and power of the Warthog.

"The A-10s were a valuable asset to us on ground missions here in Afghanistan,” Dorsey said. “Their speed and precise targeting provided great support for us and kept the bad guys' heads down during firefights."
"We have so many soldiers coming in from the field to thank us - it's their stories of desperately needing air [support] and seeing an A-10 flying overhead providing cover for them that kept us energized and motivated," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Thomas E. Moore, lead production superintendent for the maintenance unit. "It kept us working hard even when it seemed all we were doing was launching and recovering jets 24/7."

Wild Thing's comment.......

I am glad to see they are still around.

Posted by Wild Thing at July 23, 2009 05:48 AM


Best plane ever !!

Posted by: James M at July 23, 2009 07:18 AM

Every time the Pentagon thinks about scrapping those A-10's, they will come through and prove their worth. What an awesome machine. It must be a great comfort to our ground troops to see one of those coming to help in the fight.

Posted by: Jim at July 23, 2009 03:21 PM

Can you imagine the impact the A-10 could have made in Korea, against the Chi-Coms at the Chosin Resevoir or at Khe Sanh, wow that would have been Awesome.

Posted by: Mark at July 23, 2009 06:11 PM

My dad was a medic in the CBI theater and was at a point attached with the Flying Tigers.

Posted by: Bob A at July 23, 2009 07:13 PM

James, yes it is. Love it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 23, 2009 07:40 PM

Jim, I agree, I love how so many
things like this have such awesome

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 23, 2009 07:43 PM

Mark, fantastic.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 23, 2009 07:46 PM

Bob A., oh WOW that is so wonderful.
Thank you so much for sharing about
your Dad.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 23, 2009 07:47 PM