95th FGS catches history

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tiffany Del Oso
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Aircraft across the Department of Defense are maintained daily by ground crews to ensure total mission readiness. After sorties are flown, missions are complete and the aircraft returns to home station, it’s received by none other than a dedicated crew chief.

Recently, the 95th Fighter Generation Squadron had the opportunity to catch not only four F-35A Lightning II aircraft, but history, as they were the first aircraft of what is slated to be three complete combat capable fighter squadrons at Tyndall Air Force Base.

While the installation is a host for fighter squadrons, it was primarily designated as a training hub for the F-22 Raptor since 2002. After Category 5 Hurricane Michael devastated the base in 2018, the location and direct access to the Gulf Range Complex ensured the installation’s rebuild, but the mission would be in limbo as the flight line was destroyed.

It was soon decided that Tyndall would be the new home of nearly 70 F-35s and the mission would transition from training to combat, an idea that came to fruition with the landing of the first four aircraft.

“It’s really cool to witness and be a part of making the first F-35 footprint here at Tyndall,” said Staff Sgt. Luke Smith, 95th FGS F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief.

The 325th Fighter Wing’s flight line operations will continue to evolve as more aircraft and personnel arrive to support the new mission, as well as one of the DoD’s largest air-to-air combat exercises and live-fire weapons evaluation programs hosted by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.

To some, introducing three new fighter squadrons to the “Installation of the Future” may be a daunting task, but the 95th FGS is determined to start straight.

“We have people from training commands, combat commands, other airframes and even different career fields melding together here [in the 95th FGS],” said Senior Airman Justin Markey, 95th FGS F-35A Lightning II assistant dedicated crew chief.  “We have a really good opportunity to shape this squadron into something that’s truly incredible if we can bring everyone together and make the unit what it really should be.”

Squadron leadership has taken initiative to establish a solid foundation for the squadrons by hosting meetings with all the Airmen to ensure their needs are being met.

“We absolutely want to make sure that our guys have good morale and that our leadership is taking care of our people,” stated Smith. “Standing up the squadron gives us, as the first to be here, an opportunity to shape the 95th FGS culture moving forward.”

Standing up these squadrons marks a momentous occasion for the 325th Fighter Wing as defense capabilities continue to evolve. This expansion not only signifies a commitment to maintaining air superiority but also highlights the importance of the devoted and skilled Airmen involved in every operation.

From the pilots who fly the F-35 to the ground crews who validate total mission readiness, every individual contributes to projecting unrivaled combat airpower.