Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

This site's the panther's roar! Photo of 549 courtesy of Mr. Akira Watanabe of nabe3saviation.web.fc2.com


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14TFS Viper Camouflage and Markings

Camouflage

The F-16C Block 30 aircraft which originally equipped the 14th TFS in 1987 were painted in standard F-16C Viper three-tone gray camouflage scheme applied at the factory at Ft. Worth. The colors used were Medium Gray FS 36270 and Light Gray FS 36375 overall, with Dark Gray FS 36118 on the top. External stores such as missile rails, bomb or missile racks and fuel tanks were Light Gray 36375.

Although common references don’t often define the color of the radome, one Japanese scale modeling source (Fujimi 1/72 scale F-16C/D kit, 1988) indicates Gray FS 36320 was the shade of gray used on the radome (which was coated, not painted, according to at least one source), this shade being somewhat darker than the light and medium grays, but not as dark as the Dark gray on top.

F-16 Three-Color camouflage paint scheme (Courtesy Cybermodeler Online)

F-16 Three-Color camouflage paint scheme three-view (Courtesy Cybermodeler Online)

In a change of demarcation for the F-16C Block 30s, as compared to the earlier F-16s, the dark gray color on the upper fuselage was extended further forward past and beneath the hinged portion of the canopy. The hinged area of the canopy was also painted dark gray. Further, the leading edge of the lower portion of the vertical stabilizer (some call it a ‘skunk stripe’) received a topping of Dark Gray, including the prominent UHF antenna. It’s not clear if this was a PACAF directed demarcation, given the natural desire to have an overall darker top surface to help conceal an aircraft viewed from above in flights over the ocean.

Side vie of F-16 camouflage scheme showing fuselage and tail demarcations for the dark gray color (Courtesy USAF SIG website)

Side view of F-16 three-color camouflage scheme showing fuselage and tail demarcations for the dark gray color (Courtesy USAF SIG website)

These basic colors were subject to the usual wear and tear of life, for example the fading under the sun, or the grime that can accumulate as aircraft do get dirty, so over time the shades and hues could vary somewhat from the factory-fresh standard.

This three-color paint scheme remained in use through the 14TFS time in the Cold War. USAF Air Depot-level maintenance shifted to a simpler two-color camouflage paint scheme (FS 36270 overall and FS 36118 on top) for F-16s undergoing periodic depot maintenance at the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, beginning in the early 1990s, circa 1993-1994, after the Cold War had ended.

Unit Markings

The original 14TFS squadron markings consisted of a two-row, black and yellow, checkered band near the top of the vertical stabilizer, just below the bulge atop the fin. The band of black and yellow checks started with black at the leading edge. Photographic evidence indicates this marking was applied Stateside before the factory-fresh jets arrived at Misawa.  A full-color 14TFS Samurai patch was located on the right side of the engine intake, and appears from the photographic record to have been applied once the aircraft reached Misawa.

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard.  Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail.  The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard. Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail. The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

Additional unit markings consisted of a full-color 432d TFW wing emblem on the left intake opposite the Samurai patch (as can be seen on 14TFS F-16C 85-1549 up at the banner position of this web log), also applied after the aircraft reached Misawa.

The emblem of the 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron

The emblem of the 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron as worn during the late Cold War period at Misawa Air Base, Japan (Courtesy 14TFS web log)

By 1988 a distinctive “Fruit Bat” rendered in light gray on the fuselage was added abaft the cockpit. The “Fruit Bat” was a stylized depiction of the black owl found in the wing patch.

The emblem of the 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing (432TFW) at Misawa Air Base, Japan, during the late Cold War period.  The figure depicted is a stylized owl.  (Courtesy 14TFS web log)

The emblem of the 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing (432TFW) at Misawa Air Base, Japan, during the late Cold War period. The figure depicted is a stylized owl. (Courtesy 14TFS web log)

A Japanese scale model company (Fujimi) referred to the wing insignia as a “Black Owl” in their 1/72-scale F-16C/D-model kit released in 1988, though this web log writer never heard any USAF personnel refer to this moniker. But “Black Owl” (even though it was gray on the jet) does sound better than “Fruit Bat.”

432TFW wing flagship F-16C circa 1988, showing the "Black owl:" (aka "Fruit bat" distinctive wing insignia carried aft of the cockpity area.  Note the wing's two fighter squadrons' emblems on the engine intake, and identification of the wing commander, Col John Lorber, on the canopy rail.  (Courtesy Fujimi)

432TFW wing flagship F-16C 85-1432 circa 1988, showing the “Black Owl:” (aka “Fruit bat” distinctive wing insignia carried aft of the cockpit area. Note the wing’s two fighter squadrons’ emblems on the engine intake, and identification of the wing commander, Col John Lorber, on the canopy rail. (Courtesy Fujimi)

A given pilot’s rank and name was typically painted on the left canopy rail, as can be seen in the image immediately above, with the dedicated crew chief’s rank and name on the right canopy rail, as can be seen in various views. Since there were typically more pilots than planes in the squadron, it was a welcome development when one’s name made it on the canopy rail.

Last of the Misawa unit markings to describe was the two-letter code assigned to the wing: MJ, located on both sides of the vertical stabilizer. The squadron flagship, 85-1414, carried 14TFS in place of the aircraft serial number on the left side of the tail, with 14AMU on the right side of the tail in place of the serial number on that side. A light gray/white shadow effect was depicted on the trailing edges of the numbers and letters for the squadron/AMU (and wing) flagship. The aircraft serial number normally shown in this area was displaced, and carried in small size aft of this, in a single level string of numbers on the bottom of the rudder.

To complete this unit markings discussion, the emblem of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) was carried near the top of the tail in color, denoting the major command (MajCom) to which the wing and squadron were assigned, as can be seen on 14TFS F-16C 85-1549 up at the banner position of this web log.  It was not on the aircraft Stateside as they departed the continental US enroute to Misawa – it may have been applied at Hickam AFB, Hawaii during the stopover on the journey west, or applied once the aircraft reached Misawa.

The standard USAF serial number identification was placed immediately beneath the two-letter wing code. The two numbers beneath the AF indicated the fiscal year the aircraft was funded (not the year it came off the assembly line), and the large three numbers are the last three numbers of the aircraft’s full serial number.

Color and Markings Shift

Late in 1988, the squadron’s checkered band was moved to the top of the vertical stabilizer. According to maintenance personnel, this was done to make it easier to apply and maintain as it did not cross a control surface (rudder) as it had when it was lower on the vertical stabilizer. In addition, the color decals for squadron, wing and MajCom markings went away, and changed over to a low- visibility dark gray emblem painted in outline form over the lighter shades of gray.

14TFS F-16C 85-1563 thunders by in this circa 1988 view of the aircraft.  Note the shift of the checkered band up to the top of the tail, and the low visibility PACAF emblem beneath.  (14TFS web log)

14TFS F-16C 85-1563 thunders by in this circa 1988 view of the aircraft. Note the shift of the checkered band up to the top of the tail, and the low visibility PACAF emblem beneath. (14TFS web log)

Departure of the Checks

In 1989, the checkered band was replaced by a solid yellow strip atop the vertical stabilizer – the black checks were gone. Rumor at the time was that the Weapons School mafia had objected to anyone else using their trademark black and yellow checks. It’s not clear if this was the actual driving factor for the change, or whether it was yet another attempt to ease the maintenance aspects of the squadron’s color markings. The 13TFS markings were simplified and moved in a similar way during the same timeframe as these Samurai changes. The drive for uniformity and standardization seems relentless.

 A four-ship of 14TFS Vipers is shown here, circa 1990-1991, indicating the change to a single solid color squadron stripe atop the tail. These are some of the Big Mouth Block 30 jets to which the 14TFS upgraded circa 1990-1991, and came from Osan AB when the 51TFW/36TFS changed from the Block 30 to Block 42 F-16.  (Courtesy 14TFS web log)

A four-ship of 14TFS Vipers is shown here, circa 1990-1991, indicating the change to a single solid color squadron stripe atop the tail. These are some of the Big Mouth Block 30 jets to which the 14TFS upgraded circa 1990-1991, and at least some of them came from Osan AB when the 51TFW/36TFS changed from the Block 30 to Block 42 F-16. (Courtesy 14TFS web log)

References
F-16 Viper FAQ – stuff you wanted to know about the F-16C/D, accessed at: http://www.usaf-sig.org/index.php/reference/114-research-material/82-f-16-viper-faq-stuff-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-f-16cd

F-16 Color Table, at Cybermodeler Online website, accessed at: http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/f-16/vipercolors.shtml

F-16 Fighting Falcon USAF Three-Color Camouflage Color Profile and Paint Guide, Cybermodeler Online website, at: http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/f-16/f-16c_profile01.shtml

Fujimi 1/72 scale F-16C/D ‘Black Owls’ model kit G-20, Fujimi Number 26020, 1988, on Scale Mates website, at: http://www.scalemates.com/products/product.php?id=123713

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How the “Other Guys” Organized their Fighter Units

As a unit, the 432TFW had about 50 F-16’s between the two fighter squadrons, including the family models. In comparison to a USAF wing, the Soviets fielded a regiment. We’ll examine one of the nearby Soviet regiments to understand how the opposition organized their team.
Off the northeast coast of Hokkaido, Japan, lie the Kurile Islands and the related Northern Territories, the four southernmost Kurile’s which Japan still claims from World War II, when the Soviet Union entered against the war against Japan in August of 1945 and had occupied them ever since.
On the largest island of the group, which the Japanese call Etorofu, and the Russsians call Iturup, was the home of a MiG-23ML FLOGGER G unit when the 14TFS arrived in Japan in 1987, the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment of Aviation of Air Defense (APVO), commanded by a colonel.

Soviet MiG-23 ML FLOGGER G pilot of the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment stands next to his aircraft at Burevestnik Airfield during the Cold War.  (Courtesy liveinternet.ru)

Soviet MiG-23 ML FLOGGER G pilot of the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment stands next to his aircraft at Burevestnik Airfield during the Cold War. (Courtesy liveinternet.ru)

Based at Burevestnik Airfield, the 41st FAR was typical in organization of Soviet air regiments, and composed of three flying squadrons. There was a headquarters element for the unit to which the flying squadrons were assigned.
Google Earth view of Burevestnik Airfield at:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/44%C2%B055%2712.0%22N+147%C2%B037%2718.0%22E/@44.919993,147.6217244,1078m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en

A sample organizational chart of a Soviet Fighter Regiment neatly sums up the unit:

Typical Soviet Fighter Regiment organization during the Cold War (Courtesy Alternatewars.com)

Typical Soviet Fighter Regiment organization during the Cold War (Courtesy Alternatewars.com)

Each squadron was commanded by a senior lieutenant and equipped with a dozen MiG-23 fighters, with three flights of four aircraft each.

A Soviet MiG-23ML FLOGGER G equipped for intercept operations.  Note the external fuel tank, the AA-7/APEX air-to-air missile under the wing, and the smaller AA_8/APHID heat seeking missiles under the fuselage. (Courtesy Soviet Military Power 1985, via FAS)

A Soviet MiG-23ML FLOGGER G equipped for intercept operations. Note the external fuel tanks, under the wing and the belly, the R-23R/AA-7 APEX radar guided air-to-air missile under the wing, and the smaller R-60/AA-8 APHID infrared guided missile under the fuselage. (Courtesy Soviet Military Power 1985, via FAS)

It is unclear to the writer of this web log whether operational training in a regiment was conducted by one squadron, or in each squadron, as sources seem to vary. In one organizational scheme, one of the three fighter squadrons was given operational training responsibility for the unit, and was composed of two flights with a total of eight FLOGGER fighters and one flight of four MiG-23U FLOGGER C operational trainers. In the other organizational scheme, each squadron had a pair of FLOGGER C.

A MiG-23U FLOGGER C being prepared for a flight (Courtesy welw/military.pl)

A MiG-23U FLOGGER C being prepared for a flight (Courtesy welw/military.pl)

Depending on which organizational chart one views, the regiment also had, or had not, a communications flight composed of one Aero-45 light utility aircraft,

Civilian Aero-45 (Courtesy Airliners.net)

Civilian Aero-45 (Courtesy Airliners.net)

and also one Mi-4 HOUND transport helicopter.

Mi-4 HOUND transport helicopter seen by the Kremlin (Courtesy Aviastar.org)

Mi-4 HOUND transport helicopter seen by the Kremlin (Courtesy Aviastar.org)

As for the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment today, it isn’t. In 1990 the unit upgraded to the MiG-23MLD FLOGGER K. It operated the aircraft into 1993, apparently, but by May of 1994 the unit was disbanded. Anyway, during the Cold War, they were organized as described above, and as such were the nearest nemesis of the 14TFS.

MiG-23MLD FLOGGER K of the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment at Burevestnik Airfield rests on alert vigil, late in the Cold War or shortly afterward (Courtesy Skyhopelivejournal.com)

MiG-23MLD FLOGGER K of the 41st Fighter Aviation Regiment at Burevestnik Airfield rests on night alert vigil, late in the Cold War or shortly afterward (Courtesy Skyhopelivejournal.com)

References
“41st Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO,” accessed at: http://www.ww2.dk/new/air%20force/regiment/iap/41iap.htm
Soviet/Russian Air Force Organization (Updated 25 March 2014), regimental organization diagram, accessed at: http://www.alternatewars.com/BBOW/Organization/Soviet_AF_Organization.htm
Fighter Interceptor Aviation Regiment organization chart, on Federation of American Scientists website, at: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/agency/pvo.htm
Statistics and Organization of the Soviet Air Force (1960-1978), accessed at: http://www.russianwarrior.com/STMMain.htm?1969AirForcestats.htm&1
MiG-23ML FLOGGER G and Pilot picture at: http://www.liveinternet.ru/tags/%E2%EE%E9%F1%EA%E0+%EF%E2%EE/
Burevestnik Airfield image at Wikipedia entry for Burevestnik Airport, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burevestnik_Airport

MiG-23ML FLOGGER G image from Soviet Military Power 1985, on Federation of American Scientists website, at: http://www.fas.org/irp/dia/product/smp_85_ch3.htm
MiG-23U FLOGGER C image at: http://web.bg.uw.edu.pl/welw/military.pl/samoloty/mig-23_flogger/index.html
Aero-45 image at Airliners.net, accessed at: http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?front=yes&s=1&keywords=Aero+Ae+45
Mi-4 image at: http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/mi-4.php
MiG-23MLD FLOGGER K on alert at Burevestnik, at: http://sky-hope.livejournal.com/359274.html


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Remembering the 14PRS on the Longest Day, D-Day, June 6, 1944

As the 70th Anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy is commemorated, one should talk note that the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron did its part to ensure the success of this major Allied operation which was key to the effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

Although details for the squadron’s operations on D-Day are unknown to this web log writer, the 14PRS did receive a Distinguished Unit Citation, the equivalent of today’s Presidential Unit Citation, for operations between 31 May – 30 June 1944, when it accomplished critical photo intelligence collection against bridges, marshalling yards, canals, highways, rivers, and other vital targets which contributed much to the success of the Normandy campaign.

Within the period of the citation, the squadron lost two pilots who gave their all on combat aerial reconnaissance missions over occupied Europe.

Capt. Robert R. Nelson was flying F-5A Photo Lightning, serial number 42-12981, from the squadron’s homefield at Mount Farm to cover recon targets perhaps as far as Germany when he went missing on June 8, 1944.

A scale model of a Lockheed F-5A Photo Lightning, the type of photo recon aircraft flown by Captain during the 14PRS operations in the Normandy campaign (Courtesy Hyperscale.com)

A scale model of a Lockheed F-5A Photo Lightning, the type of photo recon aircraft flown by 14PRS pilot Capt. Robert R. Nelson during the Normandy campaign. (Courtesy Hyperscale.com)

Capt. Nelson is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Magraten, Netherlands, at Plot O, Row 3, Grave 2. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.

One week later, on June 15, 1944, 1st Lt. Robert W. Dideriksen flew Spitfire PR Mk XI, serial number PL790, to cover recon targets at Evere/Fauville and Coulommiers.

Artwork depicting a Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI of the 14PRS, similar to PL790 flown by 1 st Lt Didreksen during the Normandy campaign (Courtesy Clavework Graphics.com)

Artwork depicting a Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI PL944 of the 14PRS, similar to PL790 flown by 1st Lt. Robert W. Dideriksen during the Normandy campaign (Courtesy Clavework Graphics.com)

Scuttlebutt in the squadron had it that he was intercepted by Me-109’s near Paris and killed in action. He had married a British nurse about a week before he was lost. Lt. Dideriksen is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, at Plot D, Row 17, Grave 11. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

Above Omaha Beach, in the Normandy American Cemtery, rests 1st Lt. Robert W. Dideriksen, forever young. (Courtesy Army Air Forces.com)

Above Omaha Beach, in the Normandy American Cemetery, rests 1st Lt. Robert W. Dideriksen, forever young. (Courtesy Army Air Forces.com)

So on this 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, let us remember all the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and Coast Guardsmen too, who gained that vital foothold on the occupied continent. Aided by the photographic reconnaissance of the 14th PRS and men like Capt. Nelson and Lt. Diderkisen, their efforts were successful, and set into motion the Allied campaign across northwest Europe which contributed mightily to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
The accomplishments of the 14th PRS on D-Day and in the Normandy campaign are something all who served in the squadron since then can be proud of. To the Airmen of the 14PRS, a hand salute!
References:

14th Fighter Squadron Lineage and Honors Fact Sheet, at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=9807

RAF Mount Farm,” Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Mount_Farm

Missing Air Crew Reports Database query for 14PRS, at Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research website, at: http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

American Battle Monuments Commission website, at: http://www.abmc.gov/

“Spitfire PL.790” discussion thread, Army Air Forces.com Forum at: http://forum.armyairforces.com/Spitfire-PL790-m163740.aspx

F-5A Photo Lightning scale model image, at: http://www.hyperscale.com/features/2000/f5aws_1.htm

Spitfire PR Mk XI artwork, at: http://www.clavework-graphics.co.uk/aircraft/supermarine_spitfire/spitfire_mk11_004.html


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14TFS Order of Battle

The 14TFS has a Primary Aircraft Authorization (PAA) of 24 jets, the normal standard for a tactical fighter squadron at the time. Don’t recall if this number included only the single seat F-16C Vipers or the F-16D self-loading cargo version too.

This number (24) allowed the Samurai the flexibility to train, maintain, and send aircraft off on training exercises away from home station, and keep the whole outfit gainfully employed.

In late 1988, the squadron actually had a high number of 27 aircraft on hand, including the two family models. The F-16C serial numbers assigned to the 14TFS/AMU were:

85-1414*
85-1545
85-1547
85-1548
85-1549
85-1550
85-1551
85-1553
85-1554
85-1555
85-1556
85-1557
85-1558
85-1559
85-1560
85-1561
85-1562
85-1563
85-1564
85-1565
85-1566
85-1567
85-1568
85-1569
85-1570
85-1571**
85-1573**

* The squadron flagship, 85-1414, was lost in a mishap on 2 Sep 1988, in a mountainous area near tiny Kawai Village, 142 miles south of Misawa in Iwate Prefecture. 14TFS Pilot Capt V-doe ejected safely.

** F-16D “Family Model/Tub”

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard.  Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail.  The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard. Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail. The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet aft of the cockpit, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

It is a sign of the passage of time, sigh, to see that after serving with other active duty and reserve component units most of these aircraft are now in the boneyard in Arizona. Some never made it that far, as they were lost in mishaps over the years. Several of them are now entering the QF-16 program and will soon be “drone-blown.” In fact, the first QF-16 to arrive at Tyndall was tail number 569 – sigh… The ultimate fate of most of these airframes is yet to unfold.

Circa November 2012, the first Boeing QF-16 aerial target training system, 85-1569 (sigh) arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in preparation for U.S. Air Force developmental testing. (Courtesy Unmanned Systems Technology)

Circa Nov 2012, the first Boeing QF-16 aerial target training system, ex-14TFS 85-1569, arrived at Tyndall AFB, Florida, in preparation for U.S. Air Force developmental testing. (Courtesy Unmanned Systems Technology)

However, at the time of this writing, (6 Jun 2014, D-Day 70th Anniversary for 14PRS folks), at least one of the original 14TFS Vipers is still in operational service, tail number 556, flying with the 457th Fighter Squadron of the AF Reserve Command, JRB Ft. Worth, Texas.

F-16C 85-1566 in the big blue sky with three other Vipers all from the 457FS, 30 August 2012.

F-16C 85-1556 (at left) in the big blue sky with three other Vipers, all with the 457FS, 30 Aug 2012.

In early 2014, 556 flew over Afghanistan helping our troops in that difficult place. Note in the picture below how she is loaded with GBU-54 Laser JDAMs, the USAF’s newest 500-lb precision guided weapons combining GPS and laser guidance. The pairs of GBU-54’s are loaded onto BRU-57/A Multiple Carriage “Smart” Bomb Racks on stations 3 and 7, a far cry from the triple Mk 82s on Triple Ejector Racks the 14TFS commonly carried back in the 1980’s! But remember what we said back then, “dumb bombs, smart jet!”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, prepares to fly an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to fly F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

And as 556 taxied out for a combat mission, she carried an American flag for someone, probably as a memento of service in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform there deserve our enduring support and utmost respect, as they proudly serve our country far away from home in a very difficult place. Hand salute!

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to take-off in F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014.  Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to take-off in F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, FL. Note the aircraft serial number on the canopy, forward.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

Hopefully those Texans will keep 556 flying and fighting as long as they can – please donate her to the 14TFS Museum when you retire her. Well, ok, until that museum is built, how about getting her to the USAF Museum!

References
F-16 prepares for mission, 85-1556 images at: http://www.bagram.afcent.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123400527

First Boeing QF-16 Aerial Target Arrives at Tyndall Air Force Base, accessed at: http://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com/2012/11/first-boeing-qf-16-aerial-target-arrives-at-tyndall-air-force-base/

Joint Direct Attack Munition, entry in Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Direct_Attack_Munition

GBU-54 description, at: http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000319498

BRU-57/A Multiple Carriage “Smart” Bomb Rack information at: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/equip/bru-57.htm