Demobilization ceremony highlights Oregon Airmen deployment
By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 08, 2015
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- After a summer abroad in Eastern Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR), nearly 200 Airmen from the 142nd Fighter Wing were formally recognized here during a demonization ceremony, Nov. 6, 2015.
As part of the Theater Security Package (TSP) known as the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), the Airmen deployed in June, reinforcing interoperability with NATO partners to reassure America's continued commitment to European security in light of Russian intervention in Ukraine.
As the keynote speaker for the ceremony, Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins remarked on the significance and scope of the mobilization.
"This was the unit's largest deployment to Eastern Europe. Your presence alongside NATO forces strengthen our nation's capabilities to carry out joint operations and bolstered our continuous commitment to peace and stability," she said.
Other ceremony attendees included U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader, and Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon, among additional state and other elected officials.
Stencel said the activation called for volunteers from both home and abroad during an eventful part of the calendar year.
"This deployment was bound by the 4th of July on the front end and Labor Day on the back end... Events most Americans took in stride, but missed by most of you while deployed," he said.
The 123rd EFS included a total of 12 F-15C/D Eagles, augmenting the U.S. Air Force mission in Europe's (USAFE) existing efforts at bases at Camp Turzii, Romania and Kecskement Air Base, Hungary.
As the Commander of the 123rd EFS, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan led the unit during the OAR mobilization. He said that the 90-day deployment gave his Airmen the opportunity to integrate with the U.S. Air Force active duty and European coalition partners.
"Operation Atlantic Resolve allowed us to show our dedication and presence while promoting peace and stability in the region," Sullivan said.
The distance from Oregon created several unique challenges from time adjustments, language barriers, air space considerations and working outside the normal supply chain. The maintenance staff worked closely with the Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) team to obtain supplies both from established supply and other Eagle communities in Europe.
"The airplanes did great; our maintainers did an outstanding job as the biggest challenge came in acquiring parts," Sullivan said. "Our LRS team did a stellar job, just like they do when we are at home."
Sullivan said the unit flew just over 500 sorties totally more than 500 hours, working on different types of missions.
"In Romania, we flew with their MiG-21s and Puma Helicopters; sometimes integrated with them in planned assignments and other times we flew against them to support their mission," he said.
After leaving active duty three years ago and joining the 142nd Fighter Wing, Maj. Mac Young was one of many Redhawk pilots who signed up for the OAR deployment.
Young said that even though Camp Turzii is a smaller airfield with fewer established structures than here [Portland Air National Guard Base], it was able to handle all 12 F-15 Eagles the unit maintained during the deployment.
"It was definitely a bare bones base, as we were working mostly out of tents set up there, yet maintenance, fire, life support and other operations staff were able to get the job done," he said.
The TSP was a six-month active duty request that the 142nd Fighter Wing and the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard broken down into two 90-day rotations; Florida taking the first half, Oregon the latter half.
"Florida took six of our jets along with six of their own, and eventually they dropped the jets off in Romania from Bulgaria where they had been assigned, and we took over the rest of the deployment from there," Young said.
Young noted the operations began slowly to familiarize the unit to the area, but quickly the squadron became fully engaged in the mission.
"We wanted to make sure everything was good to go, that our maintenance staff had what they needed and to acquaint ourselves with the local airfield operations, local procedures, and local weather conditions," Young said.
As the mission concluded, Airmen, jets and equipment returned to Oregon in late September with the last members returning home in mid-October.
As one piece of the deployment, the demobilization ceremony capped a milestone for the 142nd Fighter Wing's lineage and was noted by Atkins in her closing remarks.
"You are part of a long line of Guardsmen. You add the stories of your deployment to a history of service, dedication and courage in the face of hostile forces and security threats," she said. "What an impressive job you did."