From August 2007 through October 2008, the 388th Fighter Wing Hill AFB, Utah, deployed U.S. Air Force service men and women from the 4th, 34th, 421st & 466th Fighter Squadrons to Balad Air Base Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. For more than 400 days, the 388th Fighter Wing provided close air support and precision strikes delivering 125 thousand pounds of ordnance while flying more than five thousand combat missions.
Depicted in the artwork above is Ninja 56, number two in a flight of 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-16CMs, flown by Major Chris “Reggie” Hammond. On 14 November 2007, Ninja flight was called to engage a small group of known terrorists loading a van with AAA (anti-aircraft artillery), and heavy machine guns in support of an ongoing attack against coalition ground forces at a nearby FOB (forward operating base) located in Southwest Baghdad. Ninja flight tracked the van as it neared friendly forces, and in one of the first U.S. Air Force attacks using a AGM-65E Laser Maverick, Maj Hammond fired the weapon while Ninja 55, Lt Col Andy “Mayo” Hecht, precisely lased the weapon to the target. The Laser Maverick directly impacted the van and destroyed the threat, saving countless coalition lives. The success of the strike and the contributions of the 388th Fighter Wing helped to achieve the Ground Commander’s objectives and helped paved the way for the Iraqi people’s sovereignty.