Vampire Bats heading to Guam
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The Vampire Bats of Kadena’s 44th Fighter Squadron were scheduled to fly to Guam on Sunday to join more than 22,000 airmen, sailors and Marines for the Valiant Shield exercise.
The entire squadron — about 45 pilots, 160 support personnel, 24 F-15s and additional aircraft — are to participate in the seven-day exercise that kicks off Tuesday, Maj. John Stratton, the 18th Wing’s chief of weapons and tactics, said Friday.
About 200 personnel from 67th Fighter Squadron, the 961st Air Control Squadron and the 909th Air Refueler Squadron also will head to Guam for the exercise, Stratton said.
“This joint training is important, because that is how we will operate in any contingency in the Pacific,” he said, adding that the squadron has spent months preparing for Valiant Shield.
During the exercise, Stratton said, the squadron’s F-15s will run offensive and defensive counter air missions and coordinate communications with the other services.
The squadron also will get a rare opportunity to fire live AIM-7 missiles, Stratton said.
“We’re looking forward to just the large-force training that we don’t get to do that often,” he said.
For Senior Airman Anthony Roberts, an aircrew flight equipment technician with the squadron, it’s a relief to finally have the squadron all packed up for the exercise.
“It’s been a lot” of packing, he said. “We’ve been packing up, preparing to go for more about a month now.”
The squadron and support personnel are scheduled to return to Kadena on Aug. 15.