Cannon airmen depart for pacific theater location

By Tonya Fennell: Cannon Connections

A large group of airmen recently departed from Cannon Air Force Base en route to a Pacific location.
According to Cannon Public Affairs spokesperson Lt. George Tobias, the deployment marks the final major deployment for a fighter squadron from the 27th Fighter Wing.
The majority of the deploying group are members of the 522nd Fighter Squadron, which is also known as the Fireballs.
Lt. Col. Tod Fingal, 522nd Fighter Squadron Commander referred to the deployment as “big.”
“A good chunk of the populace of Cannon (are deploying),” Fingal said.
The large group of airmen will spend approximately four months in an undisclosed Pacific theater location, according to Cannon Public Affairs spokesperson Lt. George Tobias. Tobias declined to divulge the exact number of airmen or the specific location of the deployment for safety reasons.
“Obviously, we can not give that information at this time because safety (for our airmen) is paramount,” Tobias said.
Tobias said the deployment marks the last major deployment before the 27th Fighter Wing is inactivated Sept. 30. The Air Force Special Operations Command will assume command of the base Oct. 1.
Upon its return, the 522nd Fighter Squadron will be inactivated, Tobias said. The Fireballs will be the second squadron to be inactivated. The 523rd Fighter Squadron, or Crusaders, was inactivated May 9.
522nd Fighter Squadron Commander Fingal described the final deployment as bittersweet.
“The 27th Fighter Wing has a legacy at Cannon,” Fingal said, “but the transition to AFSOC is great for west Texas, New Mexico and the Air Force.
Fingal, who has been based at Cannon for four years, said Cannon airmen will train with foreign allies and other military services during the deployment.
Fingal said the airmen have been training for the deployment for a year, including two exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev.
Fingal said the hardest part of the trip is leaving family behind.
The colonel said many of the airmen are “first time deployers.”
“Our guys and gals are ready for this deployment,” Fingal said, “and our families know how important our job is.”