Surge Pilots

Four F-16 fighter pilots from the 13th Fighter Squadron at Misawa AB, Japan, were among the airmen deployed to support operations in Iraq during the surge in US military forces. Capt. Eric Freienmuth, Capt. Kevin Hicok, Capt. Thomas Tauer, and Capt. Alex Wolfard recently relayed some of their experiences. For one thing, over a two-month span, the Misawa pilots covered a 25 percent increase in operations. The squadron dropped more ordnance than the amount dropped by three previous squadrons combined. “We were presented a problem and in a very short amount of time, develop an idea of how to engage,” said Hicok. And from Wolfard: “I had never flown in an environment that had that many aircraft in it before. It was ‘real’ for the first time.” The 13th FS pilots dropped 130 munitions, achieving 100 percent accuracy. Freienmuth recalled one mission during which they were called from northern Iraq to southern Iraq to support an Army base under attack; the F-16s ended the attack. (Report by SSgt. Vann Miller.)