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‘Gamblers’ support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and supporting units deployed in October to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. 

Throughout its history the 77th FS has deployed to support various operations including Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“Our 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron ‘Gamblers’ are headed downrange to use the combat capabilities they perfected at Shaw to fulfill our mission to rapidly generate lethal combat ready air power to win the current fight,” said Col. Daniel Lasica, 20th Fighter Wing commander. “The impact our Airmen have downrange is significant, and our Airmen will continue to support the Air Force mission with excellence whenever called upon to do so.” 

More than a half-century ago during World War II, the 77th was instrumental in the 20th Fighter Group achieving a record elimination of 432 enemy aircraft, 400 locomotives, 1,555 freight cars, 94 ammunition cars, and 536 motor vehicles.

Prior to deploying, Airmen proceeded to the Chandler Deployment Processing Center, where they go through a processing line to receive deployment paperwork and speak with various base agencies including: the 20th Comptroller Squadron finance office, 20th FW base chaplains, and the 20th Force Support Squadron Airman & Family Readiness Center.

Upon completion of the line, Airmen received briefings about what to expect during the deployment and what services are provided to care for their families once deployed. 

At the conclusion of the briefings, Airmen disembarked in groups to an aircraft and prepare for their venture overseas.

“This is my first base and first deployment,” said Airman 1st Class R-Tease Morales, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft electrical and environmental systems technician. “I’m nervous and excited, but I’m ready to experience a deployment and put my training to the test.” 

The Airmen of the 77th FS will have the chance to use the skills they gained while stateside and apply them overseas, continuing to showcase the lethality of the F-16s they support. The F-16 provides the 20th FW with the power to suppress and destroy enemy air defenses.

The 77th FS was established in Feb. 20, 1918, and is projected to celebrate its 100-year anniversary next year.