by Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
4/24/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- One
Laughlin Airman who recently returned from deployment, has been
submitted to receive seven Air Medals and two achievement medals for his
service in the skies over Afghanistan.
First Lt. Joseph Tomczak, 86th Flying Training Squadron instructor
pilot, returned to his duties as a first assignment instructor pilot
here at Laughlin in January after completing a 212 day deployment to
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
"When I saw the opportunity to deploy, I put my name in the hat," said
Tomczak. "I knew I wanted to be a part of the fight or at least as close
as I could get to it."
Tomczak has served at Laughlin since beginning his flying career in the
Air Force more than four years ago. After completing pilot training
here, Tomczak's first duty was to train and lead future pilots.
During his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Tomczak flew with the 4th
Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron as a MC-12W mission pilot and
assistant flight commander, an experience quite different from his
day-to-day duties at Laughlin.
"I was 24 at the time and thrust into the role of assistant flight
commander, responsible for 42 officers and enlisted personnel," said
Tomczak. "I went from an instructor pilot to leading airmen in combat
situations. It was all very different and unique."
Those combat situations involved Tomczak flying the MC-12W to conduct
tactical intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance flights in
support of forces on the ground. He and his crew flew overhead escorting
the ground units as they carried out missions ranging from patrol to
medical evacuations and everything in between.
"If we found something suspicious, we called it in to the joint terminal
attack controller who was usually by the ground force commander," said
Tomczak. "We saw what was around the corner and prided ourselves for
helping convoys doing joint patrols move from one point to the next."
Tomczak was also an air warden helping to facilitate close air support.
"As an air warden I had delegated authority from the JTAC to tell planes
to fly at different altitudes, have helicopters on station and to bring
in aircraft that we needed and didn't have on hand," said Tomczak.
With more than 150 missions and 800 hours of flight time under his belt,
Tomczak's support of Coalition forces on numerous combat sorties, day
and night, over hazardous terrain and under threat of hostile fire, are
the reason why he was submitted for seven Air Medals and two achievement
"I would definitely do it all over again," said Tomczak. "When we talk
about Laughlin and our mission of producing world-class pilots,
mission-ready airmen and developing professional, disciplined leaders,
this deployment was about all three, and I am bringing everything I
learned back here."