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Lajes supports largest A-10 movement this year

Transient alert members from the 65th Operations Support Squadron park incoming A-10C Thunderbolts. Eighteen A-10s from the 175th Warfield Air National Guard Base landed at Lajes Field March 31, making it the largest A-10 coronet to fly to Lajes Field this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lucas Silva)

Transient alert members from the 65th Operations Support Squadron park incoming A-10C Thunderbolts. Eighteen A-10s from the 175th Warfield Air National Guard Base landed at Lajes Field March 31, making it the largest A-10 coronet to fly to Lajes Field this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lucas Silva)

LAJES FIELD, Portugal -- Eighteen A-10C Thunderbolts from the 175th Warfield Air National Guard Base landed at Lajes Field March 31, making it the largest A-10 coronet this year to Lajes Field.

Members of the 175th Warfield Air National Guard Base Maintenance and Operations Group departed their base in Martin State Airport in Middle River, Md., to support ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan and landed at Lajes Field for crew rest.

"I think everybody is familiar with what's going on and the events over there, and I think we're at a very critical juncture in the fight against al-Qaida," said Col. Kevin Campbell, 175th Operations Group commander. "I think what you're going to see from this deployment is crucial in the ultimate success in the fight that's ongoing over there."

Seven support aircraft for the A-10Cs also landed at Lajes Field, making the coronet package 25 airplanes, all landing within one hour of each other.

"It took the entire Transient Alert shop to recover that many aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Gerald Redd, 65th Operations Support Squadron's Transient Alert NCO in charge. "When there are that many aircraft coming in normally there is a break in between landing times. Despite the fact that 25 planes plus the weekly rotator all landed in the same hour, it went seamlessly and we had everything done in about two hours. I was very proud of my guys."

Last year Lajes Field had more than 20 coronets consisting of 135 coronet aircraft with 35 support aircraft. With the rotation rate of the military and the range of the experience of TA members it is possible for Lajes Field TA personnel to have never worked a coronet before.

"This was my first coronet package since I have been in because I came from a heavy aircraft base," said Staff Sgt. Andres Jimenez, transient alert technician. "I was nervous and excited all at once. It was a great opportunity to experience something new while being a part of a coronet of this magnitude."

Sergeant Jimenez arrived at Lajes Field in February and besides marshalling three aircraft he also helped with the burger burn which was provided by the 65th Operation Support Squadron on the A-10 crew's behalf.

"Being a part of the burger burn made me proud to give the crew a little of home before they went down range to support the mission," Jimenez added.

The A-10s received more than 30,600 gallons of fuel from the 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron's fuel flight. The 65th Air Base Wing's command post aids in coordinating fuel as well as ensures the crew gets crew rest and alerts the crew of their mission while coordinating with TA, Tanker Airlift Control Center and various other agencies.

"This was my 10th coronet here at Lajes and it never gets old doing my job assisting with fuel, cargo or even communicating with the crew about their mission," said Staff Sgt. Eric Hall, 65th Air Base Wing's command post training NCO in charge. "It was totally a group effort getting so many airplanes taxied and serviced."

According to the 175th Wing's official website, the mission of the Maryland Air National Guard is to provide air combat forces and theater airlift aircraft to America's Unified Combatant Commands. When Maryland Air National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of their respective state, territory or the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard.

Approximately 300 personnel consisting of aircrew and ground support deployed in support of the A-10 mission to provide close air support to NATO ground forces in the AOR for a 90-day deployment rotation.