Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18
By Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 08, 2017
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Under layers of mission-oriented protective posture gear, the bitter wind pierces the faces of 35th Maintenance Group personnel while they grasp tools underneath the belly of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
“It’s pure chaos, something we don’t see at Misawa,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Ward, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance cell boss, regarding the work tempo and training during VIGILANT ACE 18, an annual flying exercise held at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
“Our goal during this exercise is to fly with everything we have with as few hiccups possible along the way,” added Ward.
As a cell boss, his responsibilities include ensuring his personnel, six F-16s and everything that comes along with quality of life and maintenance issues are top-notch for mission success.
With over triple the flying hours and a more intense work environment occurring during VIGILANT ACE 18 versus daily sorties conducted at Misawa AB, younger Airmen, especially, have the opportunity to see a different side of their routine.
“Being in South Korea for the first time is a great opportunity to experience a faster paced environment and get quality training,” said Airman Nathaniel Devinger, a 35th AMXS weapon load crew member. “Even though we are out here in the cold and staying in tents, this is potentially how it would be if we are called upon during a real-world scenario.”
VIGILANT ACE 18 tests the 35th Fighter Wing’s readiness ability to uproot from home station and sustain operations in a contingency environment. The exercise also affirms the strong alliance with Indo-Asia-Pacific allies and increases the interoperability and flexibility the 35th Fighter Wing has within the region.
“Participating in VIGILANT ACE 18 gives younger Airmen a chance to see true chaos and challenges them to find a solution when everything doesn’t fall into place,” concluded Ward.