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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2015

Wolf Pack Airmen Provide Safety, Accuracy at Buddy Wing 15-2

By Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen

Hours before aerial formations can be seen flying over Daegu Air Base, Republic of Korea, 8th Fighter Wing crew chiefs taxi to the runway to prepare for pre-flight inspections. Sortie after sortie, they marshal the pilots and conduct pre- and post-flight inspections with 100 percent accuracy, every time.

To meet the 7th Air Force operations tasking requirements for Exercise Buddy Wing 15-2, enlisted personnel from the 8th FW deployed with four F-16 Fighting Falcons to provide security, maintenance and operations support with their ROK Air Force counterparts.

"Crew chiefs are the first and the last person to see the F-16s before they're in the air," said Senior Airman Randi Stroup, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "At the end of the day, the aircraft is our responsibility. Not only are we performing pre-flight and post-flight inspections during Buddy Wing, it is our job to coordinate all servicing, so we have to be extremely broad subject matter experts."

While some Airmen deployed to Daegu were joined by many from their squadrons and units, others were the sole member from the Wolf Pack deployed in their career field.

"As an aircrew flight equipment journeyman, 100 percent accuracy in my job is crucial to the safety of the aircrew," said Senior Airman John Temple, 8th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman. "I only work alongside two ROKAF members [during this exercise], and it's been great to see that even though we come from two different cultures, when it comes to our job, we all take pride in providing safe and reliable equipment. This way, at the end of the day, the pilots always make it home safe."

Conducting Buddy Wing exercises quarterly enables U.S. Air Force and ROKAF Airmen to increase interoperability by overcoming various cultural and language barriers.

"Exercises like Buddy Wing give junior enlisted Airmen an opportunity to see the application of pilot training with our international partners," said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Pedone, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit lead production superintendent and Buddy Wing maintenance project officer. "This is a good opportunity for the handpicked 'best-of-the best' in the unit to go on a small deployment and to operate without their full support structure. In my mind, this exercise epitomizes excellence in all we do, and I'm proud of the work our Airmen are doing in this exercise."
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