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Red Tails welcome Vice President Mike Pence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a stop at an undisclosed location during his extended trip across the Middle East Sunday to visit with the deployed men and women of the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing.

Pence, accompanied by his wife Karen, took time out of a trip, which included stops in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, to thank service members and receive briefings on recent progress made in support of Operation Inherent Resolve objectives.

“It’s my great honor to join you today in the midst of your efforts to fly and fight on this front line,” said Pence. “The president sent me here today to tell you that you’re in the hearts and on the minds of the American people, and as a nation we’re thankful for your service.”

Since it was established in October of 2014 in order to formalize ongoing military actions against the rising threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve has been a remarkable success -- finally clearing the extremist group’s claimed capital Raqqa late last year. Service members deployed to the 332d AEW are responsible for producing the majority of airpower which has proved so crucial to coalition success.

“Most people wonder all their lives if they’ve ever made a difference—you will never have that problem,” said the Vice President. “You’re here so far from home because the battle lines of freedom stretch across these ancient lands. As the warfighters of Operation Inherent Resolve, you’ve answered the call to confront and defeat the embodiment of evil in our time; the barbarians known as ISIS.”

 As the sun fell, more than two hundred service members packed into a hardened structure where Pence was scheduled to speak. During his time on stage, he expressed his appreciation for their continued dedication to the mission despite their own personal sacrifices, and addressed ongoing efforts in Washington to end the current government shutdown.

“It’s remarkable to think that just three and a half years ago those brutal terrorists proclaimed the start of a 1000 year caliphate, a caliphate they promised would soon spread from Syria and Iraq and across the wider world,” said Pence. “We resolved to confront his enemy with all our might, and because of your courage, valor and professionalism we are driving the evil of ISIS from the face of the earth.”

Following his speech and a mission brief by the 332d AEW commander, Brig. Gen. Kyle Robinson, Pence was treated to a full walk-around tour of an F-15E Strike Eagle. Members of the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 332d Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron highlighted their aircraft’s broad range of capabilities and showcased one Strike Eagle’s new paint job— a custom mural designed by the squadron’s own Senior Airman Joshua Martinez to pay homage to the wing’s proud history.

“The 332d Air Expeditionary Wing is steeped in the heritage of freedom. Your story stretches back more than three quarters of a century to the Tuskegee Airmen who broke down barriers in the Air Force and flew for freedom in the Second World War,” said Pence. “To this day in the 332d, the legacy continues.”

The vice president will continue on to his next stop in Israel for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.