Military News

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

ANG gains active duty squadron

by Staff Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode
115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/6/2015 - MADISON, Wis. -- A flying squadron from World War II was reactivated in the Air National Guard during a ceremony in building 404 at the 115th Fighter Wing on Nov. 8.

The reactivation is a part of total force integration, a program that unites active duty and reserve components for overall mission efficiency.

"A couple years ago the Air Force realized there weren't enough cockpits to put the pilots out of F-16 fighter training in," said Lt. Col. Joseph Rodriguez, deputy commander of the 495th Fighter Group. "The Air Force decided it was a great time to capitalize on the experience and the background of our Guard and Reserve forces."

By embedding some of these F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots, maintainers and support personnel into the reserve component, they would be able to take advantage of the experience levels of the pilots in the Guard and Reserve forces, he said.

"The Air Force decided to sweeten the deal," Rodriguez said. "The Air Force said, 'We're going to give you these pilots that you can train, that you can mold, that you can shape, that you can educate with your vast years of combat experience and here's something better, you won't have to worry about the administrative part, we'll take care of that.'"

And that is exactly what they did.

The official integration of active duty forces with the 115 FW began earlier this year when active duty Airmen became a part of Detachment 176 during a ceremony here Feb. 7. Although these active duty Airmen called Truax Field their new home, they were still a detachment within the active duty's 495 FG out of Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

After 9-months as Detachment 176, those Airmen are now a part of the 378th Fighter Squadron, the reactivated flying squadron from World War II, now a squadron within the 115 FW.

According to Rodriguez, this activation allows the active duty Airmen an opportunity to maintain their regular Air Force requirements. This way when they are reassigned to another base, they will have maintained the same expectations as their active duty counterparts - making the transition smooth between active duty and reserve component duty stations.

"So, by activating a World War II squadron, we're bringing back the history, we're bringing back the comradery, but we aren't changing how the 115th is organized," he said. "It is a squadron that is still embedded and still reports to the 115th Fighter Wing. This structure gives us the best of both possible worlds."

Taking charge of this new squadron is Lt. Col. Jay Gibson, 378 FS commander. He pointed out during his speech that the mission of this new squadron is the same as it has been since the detachment was activated 9-months-ago.

"Our mission is the mission of the 115th," Gibson said. "There's no us versus them. There's no Guard versus active duty. Everyone is working together to accomplish the goals of the 115th. I'm really looking forward to continuing our mission."

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