Aircraft, Airmen return to Seymour Johnson following support to NATO

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Holloway
  • 4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — Airmen and F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing returned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, from a six month deployment in the European area of operations on April 1, 2022.

The Strike Eagles arrived in Europe as part of operation Castle Forge on Oct. 6, 2021 and conducted training alongside the Hellenic Air Force at Larissa Air Base, Greece, from Oct. 11-17, 2021. Subsets of the unit forward deployed to Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria, and Borcea AB, Romania, from Oct. 18-25, 2021, to exercise Agile Combat Employment elements and conduct vital training alongside the Bulgarian and Romanian air forces before the aircraft returned to Larissa AB, Greece.

From Oct. 30 – Nov. 6, F-15E elements again forward deployed from Larissa Air Base, Greece, to Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria, and Borcea AB, Romania, simulating airfield opening procedures and Agile Combat Employment. Along with combined training between NATO air forces, allied integration expanded to include assets from the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet.

The Strike Eagles also provided support to NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission in both Romania and Poland throughout the deployment.

“I’m proud of the men and women of the 336th Fighter Squadron and maintenance teams for defending NATO’s eastern border for the past six months,” said Col. Kurt Helphinstine, 4th FW commander.

Approximately 200 members returned from the deployment and met with their families for the first time since they left in October 2021.

“The commitment of U.S. aircraft and Airmen demonstrates the solidarity of the Alliance, as we continue to work together in unity to execute our defensive mission,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, Commander Allied Air Command and Commander U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa