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Crew chiefs perform preflight checks on a line of F-16s before the aircraft take to the air. Eight F-16s, along with a group of pilots, maintainers and crew chiefs from Osan Air Base, South Korea, were at Misawa Air Base, Japan, last month serving as “Red Aggressors” during the 35th Fighter Wing’s 2003 Pacific Air Forces inspection. The wing received an overall grade of “excellent” for the Operational Readiness Inspection.
Crew chiefs perform preflight checks on a line of F-16s before the aircraft take to the air. Eight F-16s, along with a group of pilots, maintainers and crew chiefs from Osan Air Base, South Korea, were at Misawa Air Base, Japan, last month serving as “Red Aggressors” during the 35th Fighter Wing’s 2003 Pacific Air Forces inspection. The wing received an overall grade of “excellent” for the Operational Readiness Inspection. (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)
Crew chiefs perform preflight checks on a line of F-16s before the aircraft take to the air. Eight F-16s, along with a group of pilots, maintainers and crew chiefs from Osan Air Base, South Korea, were at Misawa Air Base, Japan, last month serving as “Red Aggressors” during the 35th Fighter Wing’s 2003 Pacific Air Forces inspection. The wing received an overall grade of “excellent” for the Operational Readiness Inspection.
Crew chiefs perform preflight checks on a line of F-16s before the aircraft take to the air. Eight F-16s, along with a group of pilots, maintainers and crew chiefs from Osan Air Base, South Korea, were at Misawa Air Base, Japan, last month serving as “Red Aggressors” during the 35th Fighter Wing’s 2003 Pacific Air Forces inspection. The wing received an overall grade of “excellent” for the Operational Readiness Inspection. (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)
Airman 1st Class Candice Casiano, front, and Staff Sgts. Brian Vidrine and Thomas Mangan, all from the 35th Medical Group, roll up tent windows in the medical decontamination area of Misawa Air Base, Japan’s “Base X” last month.
Airman 1st Class Candice Casiano, front, and Staff Sgts. Brian Vidrine and Thomas Mangan, all from the 35th Medical Group, roll up tent windows in the medical decontamination area of Misawa Air Base, Japan’s “Base X” last month. (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

Misawa Air Base, Japan’s 3,500 airmen have a reason to give each other high-fives.

The wing received an “excellent” — the second-highest grade, below “perfect” — in one of Pacific Air Forces’ toughest tests: the Operational Readiness Inspection.

“I’m extremely proud, personally and collectively proud, for the wing,” 35th Fighter Wing commander Brig. Gen. Dana T. Atkins said Monday from the base in northern Japan.

A team of PACAF Inspector General personnel briefed the wing Friday on its “report card” for the rigorous inspection, which took place around the clock Oct. 20-27.

In the four major inspection sub-categories, the wing also received an “excellent,” Atkins said.

Those categories are:

¶ Initial response: The ability to generate aircraft, mobilize personnel and deploy them.

¶ Employment: Suppression and destruction of enemy air defense, the wing’s core mission.

¶ Mission Support: Including services, civil engineering, security forces and communications.

¶ Ability to survive and operate: The wing had to demonstrate an ability to perform its combat mission from “Base X,” a fictional deployed location with basic infrastructure and an austere environment, which included the presence of chemical and biological weapons.

Atkins said the PACAF team found “nothing systematically wrong with the wing.”

The inspection capped off a busy year that saw Misawa’s airmen deploy numerous times, from Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom to Cope Thunder in Alaska.

Staff Sgt. Albert Hopkins, who worked at the alternate command post during the inspection, said the experience was “very intense” and challenging. Airmen logged in average 14-hour days during the inspection period.

“They kept hitting us with everything they had,” he said of inspectors. “We practiced for a lot of it, but when it actually happened, [it made us think], ‘Wow, this is it, we get to put our game face on.’”

Hopkins was part of the reception and bed-down for incoming troop replacements. He was charged with ensuring incoming airmen had lodging, food and other needs taken care of, he said.

“I had to walk the inspectors through every single process that we did. That was nerve-racking because we did not know how far they wanted us to that scenario,” he said, noting reception and bed-down received “one of the better grades. It made me feel proud that I had a hand in that.”

For its efforts, the wing will enjoy a four-day holiday this weekend, coinciding with Veteran’s Day on Tuesday.

Atkins also credited local Japanese communities for their support during the inspection.

At times the base was noisier than usual, with an extended flying window and the use of ground-burst simulators to produce mock explosions.

Some residents lodged noise complaints.

“But I think the city did a really good job of dampening those,” Atkins said. “The willingness of our local community to work with us in this inspection is noteworthy.”

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