142nd Wing Airmen support Operation Noble Eagle

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sean Campbell
  • 142nd Wing/Public Affairs

 In January, 200 Guardsmen from the 142nd Wing returned from a multi-month mission on the east coast which commenced last September.

The team was mobilized to support the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), a continental defense operation that started on Sept. 12, 2001, in response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Initially, the operation provided Air Support to cover many key infrastructure points across the United States. Today, NORAD closely coordinates air defense activities with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), monitors those operations and responds to requests for assistance and emergency situations.

Working on location at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Guardsmen from Oregon, Florida, Virginia, California and Massachusetts formed together to create the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), which consisted of more than 200 Airmen.

123rd Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Josh Hovanas and 142nd Operation Support Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Bradley Young ran the operation on the ground. Both served as the commander for the 123rd EFS during the first and last halves of the mission, respectively. While on location, the EFS conducted air support missions enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration’s Temporary Flight Restricted airspace throughout the east coast.

Young remarked on the unique advantages of combining efforts with other units to accomplish the mission.

“There’s synergy in the diversity that multiple units bring. We don’t always have the numbers, the quantities or the capabilities to do everything organically,” said Young. “We reach out to some of our fellow brother and sister units to see if there are any volunteers, and then we try to make it beneficial for everyone involved.”

The EFS consisted not only of flyers, but also supporting units required to make the mission happen, to include Ammo, Weapons, Security Forces, Aircrew Flight Equipment, Supply, Maintenance, and others.

A big contributor to the success of ONE is Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE) Airmen, whose goal is to make sure that the pilots have the gear they need to be safe and successful. AFE maintains equipment like parachutes, flight suits, and other gear; and keeps it easily accessible for the flight crew. Having these dedicated Airmen maintaining the gear allows pilots to be ready as quickly as possible.

Staff Sgt. Selina Rodriguez is a 142nd Wing AFE Airman who played an important role in daily flying operations.

“Our main focus is the pilots,” said Rodriguez. “Anything and everything that they need for flight is what we do…our equipment is made to save your life.”

Missions like ONE are not only critical to national security, but also give participating Airmen the opportunity to hone their skills while gaining real world experience in their career fields.

In addition to personnel, the 142nd Wing sent eight F-15C Eagle aircraft. Supporting the mission with these aircraft allowed other fighter units on the East Coast to continue their mission sets and training with minimal impact to daily operations.

The 142nd Wing continued operations in the Pacific Northwest during this time with the remaining aircraft left at home station.

Operation Noble Eagle continues to be a crucial aspect of how we defend our homeland.

For almost 65 years, NORAD aircraft have identified and intercepted potential air threats to North America in the execution of its aerospace warning and aerospace control missions and maintain a watchful eye over Canadian and U.S. internal waterways and maritime approaches under its maritime warning mission.