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Gamblers fly at Jaded Thunder

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Team Shaw Airmen participated in exercise Jaded Thunder in Salina, Kansas, Aug. 10-28.

Jaded Thunder is a multi-national joint exercise where units train on tactical aerial combat operations.

“The 20th Emergency Management Squadron, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 20th Traffic Management Office and others from all around base came out with us and created a good mix of people,” said Capt. Kaitlyn Trujillo, 77th Fighter Generation Squadron sortie support flight commander.

“Personnel were there for 29 days, the jets were there for 26 days and we were tasked with preparing to go downrange,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Mackey, 77th Fighter Generation Squadron production superintendent. “What that looks like for us is going to Salina, working with nine tactical air controllers that we certified for using end user devices, a system for targeting and dropping bombs from a small screen. Now that we are certified, we can more effectively provide combat air support for our ground troops. We dropped 77 bombs using the EUD.”

Salina Airport is a public airport three miles southwest of Salina, Kansas. It did not have every resource our Airmen are used to having from a military base, but they nonetheless excelled with the resources they had, said Mackey.

“It was a good test for not only the pilots, but everybody in maintenance on how it's going to be when we deploy,” said Senior Airman Jacob Lowe, 77th Fighter Generation Squadron crew chief. “I think we absolutely passed that test and did really well out there.”

COVID-19 procedures are in place for the safety of everyone involved, but that does not stop the mission.

“We have started quarantining anybody who's sick or has symptoms, disinfecting surfaces and cockpits, everybody here wears a mask and we stay six feet apart,” said Mackey. “None of that stops us from completing our mission better than yesterday.”

Not only did this training prepare them for the new tempo they are going to experience while deployed, it also prepared them for deployed life in general. They worked together, ate together and lived together for those 26 days.

“We might not have had as many resources as we usually do, but it’s in those times when you really have to buckle down that you bond with those around you on a deeper level,” said Lowe. “Everybody came together as one cohesive unit.”