Randy Johnson

Mr. Johnson served in the Global War on Terror.

He served in the Air National Guard. He was a member of the 148th Fighter Wing.

His rank was technical sergeant.

Source: Hermantown Star, Thursday, September 11, 2008 (see below)

“It has been over a year since the 148th Fighter Wing has deployed overseas. Now approximately 320 are gearing up for deployment of anywhere from 30 to 120 days in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Capt. Audra A. Flanagan of the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing announced Friday that Duluth’s Bulldogs do not, at this time, have specific dates for their deployment. As part of the Air Force’s 20-month cycle, the 148th has been called into missions.

Flanagan said a majority of the members will deploy as an aviation package of personnel and equipment to Balad Air Base in Iraq some time in November. Their mission, will not specific, will be to protect ground troops by providing close air support.

Hermantown resident TSgt. Randy Johnson has been a jet mechanic for 17 years, seven of them with the 148th Fighter Wing. Johnson said shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when the terrorists attacked the United States, he joined the Wing. This will be his third deployment.

“I will be leaving my family behind,” Johnson said. His two children, ages 7 and 4, have been through this before when Johnson was deployed to Balad Air Base over a year ago. However, he said it still isn’t easy. Plus, “I’ll be gone during hockey season,” he said.

Johnson said gearing up for deployment is the most difficult part and preparing his family for his absence is tough.

“Fortunately we have a lot of family and friends in town,” he said.

Once Johnson finds a routine in his mission in Iraq he said it isn’t so bad. Other than the intense heat, and then the intense wetness of a rainy season, being part of the mission makes him feel like he is a part of something important.

“It makes me feel like being there is worth something,” he said.

Since the 148th Fighter Wing’s last Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment to Balad Air Base, they have accomplished many things including:

• Deploying to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., to perform Air Sovereignty Alert at the request of the Air Force for five weeks between June and July 2007; • Deploying to Hickman Air Force Base, Hawaii, to perform Air Sovereignty Alert after the fleet of Air Force F-15s were grounded after an accident in St. Louis, Mo. In early November 2007. They were in Hawaii from November 2007 to January 2008;
• Deploying to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, to perform Air Sovereignty Alert while Alaska F015 pilots and maintainors completed training after being grounded for three months. While at Elmendorf, the 148th was the first F-16 unit to intercept a Russian “Bear: Bomber.

Already in 2008, 413 148th Fighter Wing members have deployed to 10 different countries, including the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the past several years the 148th Fighter Wing has received the following honors:

• October 2007 earned an “Excellent” rating on their Operational Readiness Inspection;
• January 2007 earned the Outstanding Unit Award. The award is given to the top 5 percent of all Air Force, Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard units;
• May 2008 earned the Voluntary Protection Program Star Rating for exceeding OSHA safety standards;
• July 2008 earned the William W. Spruance Safety Award given by the National Guard Association of the United States for contributing most significantly to accident prevention;
• July 2008 earned one of five Distinguished Flying Unit Awards, given to the five best Air National Guard Units.

The 148th Fighter Wing has more than 1,050 personnel. Of those members 450 are full-time and 600 are considered traditional guard members.”

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