Lakenheath airmen return home after fighting ISIS
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2018
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — The last 494th Fighter Squadron airmen to deploy on a six-month mission to fight the Islamic State have returned to Lakenheath, Air Force officials said.
The mission included more than 450 airmen, who began returning in early October to the sights and sounds of family members gathered at the flight line welcoming them home. The remaining contingent of airmen returned last week, service officials said.
The squadron, “associated maintenance and other support elements were engaged in the fight against ISIS,” Col. William Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander, told Stars and Stripes. “In essence, flushing out the last remaining safe holds of ISIS and finishing eradicating them from the battlefield.”
The squadron flew 2,000 F-15E Strike Eagle sorties in about 11,000 flight hours and dropped more than 500 precision-guided munitions in support of U.S. Central Command operations in southwest Asia.
Marshall said that hard work and long hours from the aircraft maintainers kept the missions moving.
“When we show up to the jet, we take a quick walk around and hop in with implicit trust that the maintainers have given us a safe and effective airplane to fly,” said Marshall, who has more than 650 hours of combat experience in the F-15E. “They were flying sorties 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anywhere from three to nine hours plus.”
The 48th Fighter Wing employs three combat-ready squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagle and F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft for United States Air Forces in Europe–Air Forces Africa.
An F-15E Strike Eagle pilot reunites with his wife after returning home from a combat deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. The 494th Fighter Squadron flew 2,000 sorties in about 11,000 flight hours and dropped more than 500 precision-guided munitions during the six-month deployment in South East Asia.
WILLIAM HOWARD/STARS AND STRIPES