Thursday, August 19, 2010

RED FLAG'10-4 (Part-1)

Lajes Field Airmen support Pakistan air force on deployment to exercise

LAJES FIELD, Azores (AFNS) -- On their way to the U.S. to sharpen their close-air-support skills, six F-16 fighter jets from Pakistan and their crew members stopped at here July 14 through 15 before heading to a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

About 100 Pakistan air force pilots, maintainers and support personnel, accompanied by a U.S. tanker, are attending Red Flag, a premier, large force employment and integration exercise.

Airmen of the 65th Operations Support Squadron here were on standby and ready to foster bilateral relations with the international delegates.

"This visit to Lajes is historic to us and the Pakistan crew, because we are hosting them here for the first time," said Tech. Sgt. Jose Ramon, a coronet liaison technician with the 65th OSS. "It is also very crucial in the career of the Pakistan (airmen) since it is their first deployment to the exercise. By welcoming and giving them world-class support, we are ensuring that their short stay here is a wonderful and lasting experience."

Airmen here ensured the crew's billeting, locker and food arrangements were made. They quickly dispersed the necessary aerospace ground equipment support the jets needed, such as jet fuel and lavatory services, among others.

"We did everything we could to make their stay here a memorable one," Sergeant Ramon said.

Sergeant Ramon said that since Lajes Field is the stopping point for smaller aircraft trying to make it across the Atlantic Ocean, Airmen here have a sense of urgency and readiness and they "make it happen."

"In no time, we took the jets off the runway and showed them where to park," said Staff Sgt. Sean McGrath, a 65th OSS transient alert team member.

While some Airmen of the transient alert team, who are mostly crew chiefs, said they see this visit as an opportunity to do what they are trained to do. Some said it allows them to interact with the military of other nations while stationed at Lajes.

"Dealing with international air force members, even though there could be a complete culture difference, is very exciting because it creates an avenue for us to find a common ground to communicate and learn from each other," Sergeant Ramon said. "Such a visit helps us to learn from what they do best and for them to see how we do business."

Making sure the pilots and their crew members want to keep coming back is a goal of the 65th OSS Airmen.

"We'd like crew that pass through Lajes (Field) to know that our service here is first-class," said Maj. Robert Sweeney, the 65th OSS director of operations. "We would also like them to come back here knowing that they will be well taken care of, no matter what time of the day, the weather and where they are going . Whether they are heading to the States or overseas toward deployments or their countries, we would want them to feel like this could be a second home for them."

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