2021 Year In Review

January 2021

Staff Sgt. Thomas Penny (left), 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Taylor Jones, 62nd AMU assistant crew chief, perform a post-flight inspection Jan. 29, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The 62nd AMU consists of 15 U.S. aircraft, seven Norwegian aircraft and three Italian aircraft. The 62nd AMU’s mission is to provide safe, reliable aircraft to the 62nd Fighter Squadron in order for them to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)
Leaders from the 56th and 944th Maintenance Groups, known collectively as the 1K Maintenance Group, stand behind their recently received Secretary of Defense Field-level Maintenance Award, Large Category, Jan. 22, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The Luke AFB Maintenance Team garnered the prestigious award for its outstanding performance in maintaining 100 F-35A Lightning IIs, and 109 F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, valued at $11.5 billion, while upholding a 97.3 percent maintenance scheduling effectiveness rate. The Total Force effort continues to play a significant role in producing the world’s greatest fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Clinton Atkins)

February 2021

Staff Sgt. Janet Kim, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-35 avionics craftsman, poses for a photo, Feb. 25, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Kim has helped grant 56 wishes to children with critical illnesses as a volunteer supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Kim volunteers in the community to stay resilient while developing several skills that have helped her grow professionally and personally. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Caitlin Diaz-Gorsi)
Maj. Nicholas “Jakal” Rallo, 63rd Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II instructor pilot, prepares for a flight, Feb. 22, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Rallo has flown the F-35A since January 2015 and achieved 1,000 flying hours, a first for Luke. This milestone highlights Luke’s ability to train and transform combat-ready Airmen to meet warfighting needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Carter)
Arizona U.S. Senator and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly uses a borescope utilized by the 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Feb. 16, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Kelly was able to be hands-on with different tools and training materials the base uses for its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Davis)
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Gonzalez, left, and Staff Sgt. Gary Peteritis, center, both 56th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair and Enhancement Program technicians, stand with Tech. Sgt. Brady Flynn, right, 56th MXG Continuous Improvement and Innovation manager, to showcase the first prototype of the F-35A Lightning II communication cable rebuild and class tester box February 5, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The development of the tester box has improved communication between pilots and maintainers on the flight line by allowing Airmen to rebuild F-35 communication cables at the unit level. This is one of many initiatives that advances the 56th MXG CII office’s mission to find errors, fix problems and empower the future of the 56th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Carter)

March 2021

Tech. Sgt. Joyce Osornio-Magaña, 944th Fighter Wing weapons load technician, participates in an exhibition load March 25, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The Women of Weapons Exhibition Load involved three teams made up of all women from different backgrounds, units, and ranks, honoring female maintainers for Women’s History Month. Diversity allows the Air Force to capitalize on all available talent by enabling a culture of inclusion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Carter)
Staff Sgt. Renee Murray, 944th Fighter Wing Command Support Staff administrator, pulls a weighted sled during a strongwoman competition, March 3, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Contestants had to pull a 50-pound sled 15 feet to pass the event. Fitness events boost morale and contribute to a fit-to-fight Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Noah D. Coger)
Senior Airman Garion Duty, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit environmental electrician craftsman, and Staff Sgt. Jules Morgenstern, 944th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics craftsman, maintain an F-16C Fighting Falcon March 10, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Luke AFB is home to 77 F-16s divided among four fighter squadrons. Continuous maintenance ensures Luke’s mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen is successful. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Caitlin Diaz-Gorsi)

April 2021

Senior Airman Jamee Hines, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, welds pieces to a modified egress seat dolly stem, April 22, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The aircraft metals technology section reinforces various parts for aircraft and maintenance equipment. The 56th EMS provides safe and reliable aircraft, equipment, munitions and maintenance to ensure Luke AFB can continue to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Noah D. Coger)
U.S. Air Force Col. Lance R. French, commander of Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Western Regional Command, Carson, California; U.S. Army Col. Christopher Ostby, commander of DCMA Phoenix; and, Wade McVey, deputy director of DCMA Phoenix, prepare to cut a ribbon during the DCMA Phoenix grand opening, April 28, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. DCMA provides administration services for the Department of Defense and other federal organizations and is an essential part of the contracting process from pre-award to sustainment. The DCMA Phoenix office has relocated from downtown Phoenix to Luke AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)
Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, 56th Fighter Wing commander, presents Maj. Brandon Dobbs, 309th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, with the Bronze Star for meritorious performance while stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, April 2, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

May 2021

Airmen assigned to the 56th Force Support Squadron and 56th Civil Engineer Squadron assemble framework for a Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen, May 18, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The Airmen assembled the SPEK during an exercise meant to prepare them for an upcoming deployment. Readiness exercises sharpen Airmen’s combat support capabilities and optimize skills necessary for real-world contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Noah D. Coger)
Staff Sgt. Zachary Riesselmann, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, closes a blasting cap container May 27, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Over the course of 2020, Riesselmann distinguished himself in a deployed environment and the home station, leading programs for his entire flight as a senior airman and showing tireless dedication to volunteerism and the mission. For these reasons, the Air Education and Training Command selected Riesselmann as one of the 2021 AETC Outstanding Airmen of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Carter)
Daniel Villela (left) and Staff Sgt. Daniel Ward, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management technicians, work at the 56th LRS Rapid Maintenance Annex May 17, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The annex is an expansion of the vehicle maintenance flight and is used expedite minor repairs or services for flight line vehicles. The facility supports the 56th LRS’ ongoing effort to improve their relationship with the 56th Maintenance Group and addresses the needs of maintenance professionals to ensure the success of Luke AFB’s mission to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leala Marquez)
Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Judd, 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight line expediter, uses the KILA app May 14th, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The app has been in use at Luke AFB since March 24th, 2021, and has revolutionized the launch and recovery process for the F-35A Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Through streamlined communication and new ways of completing the mission, the Air Force builds its lethality and teamwork to provide airpower anytime, anywhere. (Airman 1st Class David C. Busby)

June 2021

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, holds a coin with a bullet hole during a visit to the 56th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility, June 29, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Using an M9 Beretta, Wills shot the coin with 9 mm round during a CATM demonstration. Leadership from the 19th AF visited Luke AFB to engage with the 56th Fighter Wing and gain a better understanding of the successes and challenges faced by the wing. The 56th FW’s mission is to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.
U.S. Air Force Airman Manolo Alvarado Hernandez, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels system maintenance apprentice, seals an underground water pipe at the base fitness center, June 2, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. By executing the construction as an in-house troop-training project, the 56th CES will save the Air Force an estimated $1.2 million making it the largest active project of its kind in the Air Education and Training Command. In-house training projects enable the squadron to provide valuable training and real-world construction experience for Airmen while simultaneously completing infrastructure upgrades that will enable the 56th Fighter Wing to meet its warfighting needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

July 2021

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Rachel Vander Kolk, 63rd Fighter Squadron B-course student pilot, trains to fly the F-35A Lightning II July 23, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Vander Kolk is the first female B-course graduate in the 63rd FS and her first duty station will be Eielson AFB, Alaska. Vander Kolk’s achievement exemplifies Luke AFB’s mission to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class David Busby)
Col. Robert Kongaika, 56th Maintenance Group deputy commander, blows into a Tongan seashell horn July 15, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Kongaika is the first person from Tonga, a Pacific Island in the Polynesian Kingdom, to achieve the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Diversity and inclusion in the U.S. Air Force are warfighting imperatives that capitalize on and celebrate multicultural contributions to National Defense in an environment where all Airmen are valued and respected for their identity, culture and background. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Phyllis Jimenez)

August 2021

3OH!3 plays at Summer Fest Aug. 14, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The concert line-up included the bands Sick Puppies, 3OH!3 and the Brett Scallions Band. Summer Fest was held by the 56th Force Support Squadron to show appreciation for Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)
Mark Brnovich, right, Arizona Attorney General, and Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, left, 56th Fighter Wing commander, pose for a photo in front of an F-35A Lightning II during a base visit Aug. 20, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base. Brnovich toured various places around base to include the 56th FW Headquarters, F-35 Academic Training Center, and the 62nd Fighter Squadron. Brnovich toured base and met with wing leadership to observe Luke’s mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Collette Brooks)
U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 56th Fighter Wing complete deployment outprocessing Aug. 30, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. More than 70 Luke AFB Airmen deployed to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, in support of Operation Allies Welcome. The operation supports the temporary provision of medical screening, lodging, and other general support for Afghan evacuees and their families arriving to several military installations in the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leala Marquez)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Noah Huff, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, fires a weapon next to MWD Enzo, during a weapons qualification course Aug. 3, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Enzo attended the course to expose him to the sound of weapon fire, training him to keep composure during high-stress situations. Luke AFB is one of the first Air Education and Training Command bases to implement the use of the Air Force’s new weapons systems, the M4A1 rifle and M18 carbine, leading the way for the future of SFS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leala Marquez)

September 2021

Firefighters prepare for the 9/11 Tower Challenge at Gila River Arena Sept. 11, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. Firefighters wore their uniforms to recognize the first responders that risked their lives during the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. Participants walked up and down stadium stairs representing the 110 flights of stairs climbed by New York City firefighters during the attacks on the World Trade Center and in honor of those who lost their lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Busby)
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John Massey, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, carries a POW/MIA flag during a run Sept. 16, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Massey was the opening runner for the 56th Fighter Wing’s annual POW/MIA vigil run. The event consists of Airmen running in 30-minute intervals while carrying a POW/MIA flag for a 24-hour period in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
U.S. Air Force Col. William Ray, 56th Maintenance Group commander, awards the Bronze Star Medal to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Williams, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loading non-commissioned officer in charge, for meritorious achievement in a deployed location Sept. 1, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Williams trained and advised the Afghan air force and national army in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and conducted 187 outside the wire missions. His efforts led to increased interoperability between allied military forces and strengthened the relationship between the U.S. military and Afghanistan as a whole. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Busby)

October 2021

U.S. Air Force military and honorary commanders from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, observe a bombing and strafing demonstration from an A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 47th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona Oct. 21, 2021, at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, Arizona. Luke AFB hosted an overnight event for 55 honorary commanders where they received a first-hand look at the mission of Gila Bend and the Barry M. Goldwater Range. Luke AFB’s Honorary Commander program provides an opportunity for local, regional and national community leaders to learn more about the wing’s mission and priorities as well as become empowered unofficial spokespersons for the Department of the Air Force, Airmen and Space professionals and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Chambers, left, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron wheel and tire journeyman, explains how an electric bead breaker compresses two wheel halves to U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan O’Dea, right, 56th EMS commander, Oct. 14, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The 56th EMS leadership team increased their knowledge and hands-on experience during a shop visit by performing various wheel and tire procedures such as how to clean, inspect and repack wheel bearings. The wheel and tire shop provides essential and reliable aircraft parts for the F-35A Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon, supporting the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Collette Brooks)

November 2021

Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, fly over Phoenix during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Nov. 7, 2021. The 56th and 944th FWs, which train U.S. Air Force F-16 pilots, conducted the flyover in support of the NASCAR championship race. Luke AFB continually bolsters partnerships with various organizations around Arizona, gaining support from the surrounding community.
Arizona State Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai shares stories about her Navajo roots during a Native American Heritage event Nov. 16, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Peshlakai is currently serving her second term in the Arizona Senate as the state’s first Native American woman senator. Diversity and inclusion in the U.S. Air Force are warfighting imperatives that capitalize on and celebrate multicultural contributions to national defense in an environment where all Airmen are valued and respected for their identity, culture, and background. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Phyllis Jimenez)

U.S. Air Force Airman Basic Richard Jimenez, 56th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, and his wife, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jenna Jimenez, 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit analyst, pose together Nov. 5, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The couple joined the Air Force along with their teenage son after falling on hard times during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. The Air Force actively works to improve and maintain the quality of life for Airmen and their families by providing resources that promote health, education, and resilience.

December 2021

Anthony ‘Baby Yoda’ Ramos, Pilot for a Day participant, sits in front of an F-35 Lightning II Dec. 16, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. During his visit, Ramos and his family learned about the 61st Fighter Squadron mission, visited the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department and the 56th Operation Support Group aircrew flight equipment shop, and watched jets take off. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leala Marquez)
Anthony ‘Baby Yoda’ Ramos, Pilot for a Day participant, sits in an F-16 Fighting Falcon training cockpit Dec 16, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Ramos was given a tour of the 56th Operation Support Group aircrew flight equipment to learn about their mission and how the AFE team supports and maintains pilot operations, as well as upholds pilot safety. During his visit to Luke AFB, Ramos and his family toured the 61st Fighter Squadron, the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department and the Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) facility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Leala Marquez)
(Left to right) Senior Airman Isaac Garcia, 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant dedicated crew chief, Master Sgt. Joseph Blahut, 56th Maintenance Group wing avionics manager, and Senior Airman Jeffrey Dupont, 308th AMU autonomic logistics information system expeditor, play a video game together Dec. 14, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The Airmen make up a team they call “Joint Strike Fighters” in the Department of the Air Force Gaming League’s Apex Legends Tournament. Over 400 service members have competed in the tournament across the Air Force, which aims to strengthen teamwork and morale. (Senior Airman David Busby)
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, 56th Fighter Wing commander, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, waves a U.S. flag during the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade Dec. 18, 2021, at Scottsdale, Arizona. Since 1941, Luke AFB has been a partner in Arizona, integrating its members with various programs throughout the surrounding communities to bolster partnerships and show appreciation for supporting the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

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