A dreary day in Deutschland.
U.S. Air force Senior Airman Christopher Nichols, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician from Warner Robins, Ga., runs through a pre-flight inspection for a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron before its final take off from Spangdahlem Air Base. The 81st FS had been assigned to Spangdahlem since 1973 but is scheduled to inactivate in June.
(Photos and article by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo, 17 MAY 2013.)
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - The last four A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from the 81st Fighter Squadron left Spangdahlem May 17, 2013.
Twenty-one aircraft relocated to the United States over the past few months due to the deliberate and comprehensive restructure planned by the U.S. Air Force that has lead to the inactivation of the 81st in June.
The loss of A-10s is a significant event for the United States here in Europe.
“Saying farewell to the 81st makes today a sad day, but it is just another chapter in the life of a fighter squadron,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Clinton Eichelberger, 81st commander form Annapolis, Md. “We are proud to be standing here and we are going to safely move these aircraft back to the United States.”
After flying over the next few days, the aircraft will land at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., where they will continue supporting operations employed as a combat aircraft.
Although the A-10s have left Europe, Spangdahlem will continue to support the U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa and NATO mission as an integral part of the U.S. Air Force. The 52nd Fighter Wing will maintain a relevant combat capability, as it is a critical mobility hub and enduring USAFE installation.
“Today is a significant event and an emotional day for the base. The A-10s have a proud heritage with a lasting legacy in Europe,” said Col. Joseph McFall, 52nd FW vice commander.” “However, the F-16s stationed here will continue to fulfill mission capabilities for the Air Force and its NATO allies.
Spangdahlem AB’s role in fulfilling USAFE-AFAFRICA’s enduring mission’s remains as significant as ever to the United States and the nation’s European allies.
“It doesn’t stop here,” Eichelberger added. “The guys that are going to go on to fly the Thunderbolt are going to continue to perform that mission and continue to train to provide the support that the ground forces need.”
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