Several maintainers were recognized recently for saving the aircrew of an F-15E Strike Eagle that caught fire shortly after landing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, last year. The F-15 deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, suffered a hydraulic leak, which ignited on cont?act with the aircraft’s brakes as it taxied to its parking spot after a Dec. 2, 2015, night sortie. “As soon as I looked back there was a ball of fire under the jet so I ran over,” 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons troop SrA. Nash Camden said in a release. Camden extinguished the initial fire, but it reignited when the pilot used the parking brake in an effort to stop the damaged jet. When the crew shut the engine down, the flaming aircraft, which was armed with 3,000 pounds of weaponry, began rolling backward. The maintainers ran ladders to the jet to allow the crew to escape, braving the lethal possibility the jet’s tires could explode. The maintainers then repeatedly threw chocks behind the aircraft to slow, and eventually stop it. “They were willing to risk their lives to go out there to prevent jets from colliding, preventing possible explosions, and helping save our lives,” the crew’s weapons system officer said. TSgt. Kyle Martin, Camden, SrA. Blake Destasio, and SrA. Matthew Mayo were awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Central Command’s ground safety award for their actions in a Feb. 16 ceremony.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.