Michigan Airmen complete Snowbird Training

A crew chief from the 127th Maintenance Squadron marshals an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a training mission at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 3, 2015. The aircraft is from the 107th Fighter Squadron, 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard and is home-stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton)

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Fifteen thousand rounds to the good.

About 200 Michigan Airmen engaged in a series of exercises - primarily focusing on combat search and rescue utilizing the A-10 Thunderbolt II - centered at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., and the nearby Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range over the two weeks ending Feb. 7, 2015.

The Snowbird exercise allowed the Airmen of the 107th Fighter Squadron, 127th Maintenance Group and other supporting elements of the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing to practice the major movement of their aircraft and personnel from home station at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and then to be able to engage in a simulated combat environment.

“When you make a big movement like that, there’s always issues that have to be worked through,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Fetty, aircraft maintenance superintendent on the trip. “But our Airmen worked together in a professional manner - acting like the true Airmen they are - and had a successful trip.”

During the exercise, the A-10s from Selfridge fired nearly 15,000 rounds from the 30mm GAU-8 gun that is the aircraft’s primary weapon. In addition, almost 500 bombs, rockets and missiles were fired by the aircraft’s pilots during training missions in the Goldwater range. In many of the missions, Selfridge pilots worked closely with local Air Force rescue helicopters and other assets in a complex and realistic series of scenarios. Originally designed for close air support, the A-10 provides an ideal platform to provide support to rescue operations in potential close proximity to opposition ground forces. The A-10 can also provide airborne command and control support to rescue operations, as well as serve in air interdiction and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacities.

“This exercise gave everyone a chance to see that when we come together - Wing Commander Brig. Gen. (John D.) Slocum calls it ‘One Team, One Fight’ - that we can pack a serious punch,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Holtz, 107th Fighter Squadron commander.

Holtz and Fetty said that as a result of the training during Snowbird, numerous pilots, maintenance personnel and others were able to be “signed off” in a variety of upgrade training, further widening the skill set of 127th Wing personnel.

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Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs, Michigan Air National Guard

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