The fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is an on-going campaign with many nations involved. In Southwest Asia the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron are finishing what has been a record-setting rotation in support of this fight.
The maintenance squadron deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho has performed as one, dropping a record-breaking 5000 plus bombs and keeping the F-15E Strike Eagles in the air and ready without fail for the last six months.
“We came here to execute to the air tasking order in accordance with the Combined Forces Air Component Commander requirements and to help those who can’t help themselves and liberate them from the oppression of ISIS,” said Chief Master Sergeant Raymond Phreaner, 332 EMXS chief enlisted manager. “Hands down, this is a capstone deployment and it’s been the best one I‘ve ever had by far. Record setting aside the total team effort, from the wing supporting us on down, has been instrumental in our successes.”
Comradery has been a common theme throughout the Airmen who live, work and breathe maintenance here. This squadron of strike eagles is the first at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the 332nd EMXS was responsible for building the warfighting platform from the ground up.
“We came out here as a team,” said Capt. Wes Sheppard, 332 MXS officer in-charge. “Nearly 500 maintainers and operators came here as one, and with one goal . . . to meet the air tasking order and be there when required to give a serious attitude adjustment to our enemies.”
The squadron dropped more munitions than any other U.S. Air Forces Central unit and surpassed every monthly bomb record for a deployed unit except for one. There were also no tasked sorties missed.
“It's been a privilege to watch the Mountain Home team's success throughout the past several months,” said Capt. Jason Henderson, 332nd EMXS operations officer. “While over 5,000 munitions expenditures are certainly impressive, it's a bi-product of something bigger... non-stop combat sortie generation. This deployment should be a case study in how to effectively generate and sustain combat airpower at the end of a challenging logistics pipeline.”
As the fight and its accomplishments are not centrally-located and within eye sight to the Airmen making it possible, different things serve as evidence of their success and necessity.
“My biggest take away was a video about children who were able to play soccer on a soccer field in eastern Mosul for the first time in two years,” said Tech Sgt. Alvarez, 332 MXS crew chief. “As a father of a small child, to know we were able to provide freedom for those children to play safely, and not have to worry is what makes it all worth it.”
The close-knit unit broke records while faced with supply difficulties, a new location not equipped with everything necessary for mission accomplishment, and even during tragedy the last leg of their deployment.
“It’s about the team,” Sheppard said. “We had to come into a bare base and set up everything from the beginning. You learn how good your unit is when things aren’t going well. It was awesome to see everyone one do their little piece.”
The 332nd EMXS, commanded by Lt. Col. Paul Tower, performed their duties to an unrivaled level. Heading back to their home station, the commander shared his parting thoughts.
“It's incredible to be a part of something so big,” said Tower. “We're destroying our enemy and degrading their ability to fight one bomb at a time. It's been a slow advance over the past 6 months, but we exercise incredible care to ensure that each and every weapon is functioning correctly before and after it is loaded onto an aircraft.”
The squadron’s attention dedication and excellence in performance of their mission has had far-reaching effects that both destroy the enemy and help keep the innocent as safe as possible. They have paid forward an invaluable contribution to the nation and to coalition partners fighting ISIS.
“Our top priority is to ensure that each weapon released hits the intended target with the desired effect,” added Tower. “For the past 180 days, we've met that priority as we've expended 5,018 precision guided munitions with unparalleled precision and unmatched success.”