Since deploying to Iraq late last month, the 13th Fighter Squadron has found steady work, steady mail and decent food.

The squadron’s commander, Lt. Col. Steve Williams, last week recorded his first call-in recorded message for the Misawa Air Base community, carrying on the tradition of 14th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. Chuck Toplikar.

The 13th replaced the 14th — the other F-16 fighter squadron from Misawa — at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad.

Williams said he plans to update his message every two weeks, with the next recording on June 22. After receiving a solid handoff from the 14th, the “Panthers” have been “actively supporting allied ground forces daily,” Williams said.

Williams said mail has been steady and he thanked everyone for their well wishes and support.

Commenting on the food, Williams said the chow at Balad isn’t home-cooking, but it isn’t Meals, Ready to Eat, either, “so no one is complaining.”

Williams ended his first phone recording by thanking people for their support.

“It lets us stay focused and gives us pride in our service to our country,” he said.

Call DSN 226-1300 to listen to Williams’ updates on the 13th Fighter Squadron.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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