AFA President & CEO Returns to Lakenheath’s ‘Liberty Wing’
October 25, 2023
In the summer of 1971, AFA’s President & CEO Bruce “Orville” Wright—a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet at the time—spent a month at Lakenheath AB, United Kingdom, for mandatory training. In the fall of 2023, more than 50 years later, Wright returned at the invitation of the current 48th Fighter Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Joe Campos, and Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Tidwell.
Wright toured the wing’s flight line on Oct. 20, and spoke at the annual Air Force Ball the following evening. The 48th FW now employs both the combat-proven F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-35A Lightning II. They are constantly flown and deployed together, providing a mixed force of the most lethal combat air forces formations in the world. Both aircraft are also dual- capable with the ability to employ B61 nuclear weapons.
As Wright shared and reflected upon the history of the Liberty Wing, he also noted and thanked the members and spouses of the 494th Fighter Squadron. Its F-15E Strike Eagles recently deployment to the Middle East—the Israel-Hamas war has significantly increased forward-deployed Airmen and Guardian mission-focused requirements across the CENTAF area of operations. Wright noted Lakenheath’s Airmen are ready in case the conflict in the Middle East expands and calls for U.S. response.
The Liberty Wing has been directly involved in combat operations going back to El Dorado Canyon in 1986, Desert Storm in 1991, and continuous deployments to the Middle East and across Europe, including recent exercises in Poland in response to the Russia-Ukraine war.
“It is the honor of a lifetime for me and my wife Kerri to be here with our Liberty Wing family,” Wright told the 48th Fighter Wing’s Airmen and their spouses. “You have our enduring thanks and the ever-increasing commitment of AFA to support our Airmen, Guardians, and their Families.”