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111th Fighter Wing: Ready to rock and roll!

Tech. Sgt. Dennis L. Donahue, 111th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Pa. Air National Guard, preps a live MK-82 low drag bomb before it is lifted and attached to an A-10 aircraft, during live loading operations at Fort Drum, NY.

Tech. Sgt. Dennis L. Donahue, 111th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Pa. Air National Guard, preps a live MK-82 low drag bomb before it is lifted and attached to an A-10 aircraft, during live loading operations at Fort Drum, NY.

WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. -- Sixteen members of the 111th Maintenance Group deployed to Ft. Drum, NY, in support of flying operations and live fire training missions July 30 through Aug. 9.

As a Forward Operating Location, or FOL, Ft. Drum provides the pilots and ground crews the opportunity to experience loading and firing live weapons, to include MK-82 and High Explosive (HE) rockets on the aircraft.

Four of the six A-10s currently belonging to the 111th Fighter Wing deployed, and because the location of Ft. Drum is so close to Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, pilots were able to rotate in and out throughout the exercise, maximizing the efficiency of training.

"From the Ammo troops who build the bombs, the weapons troops who load them, and the crew chiefs who launch and recover the aircraft, this is an exceptional opportunity for training and live munitions experience that they would not be able to get back home," expressed Capt. Aaron Shick, 111th Maintenance Squadron officer. "It is also a great experience to get accustomed to the way we operate during wartime."

FOLs usually include a runway and a couple of tents, conex, or small buildings. Although fully operational there are limited resources on site, and it is left to the troops to adapt and overcome.

According to Captain Shick, FOLs are used in real world operations to get the A-10 closer to the war zone. In 2003 when the 111th Fighter Wing deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, a small group of troops were deployed north into Iraq to an FOL in order to participate in "Shock and Awe" in Baghdad.