Fireballs fly out one last time

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Lt. Col. Tod Fingal, 522nd Fighter Squadron commander, makes his way to his F-16 on May 27. The "Fireballs" arrived at Anderson Air Base, Guam on May 30 to begin a four-month deployment to ensure continued security in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Lt. Col. Tod Fingal, 522nd Fighter Squadron commander, makes his way to his F-16 on May 27. The "Fireballs" arrived at Anderson Air Base, Guam on May 30 to begin a four-month deployment to ensure continued security in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airman 1st Class Roman Thomas, 524th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, cleans the outer cockpit of an F-16 from the 522nd Fighter Squadron on May 27. Nearly 400 Cannon Airmen and 18 F-16s deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam to suport security  responsibilities throughout the Asia-Pacificregion, (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airman 1st Class Roman Thomas, 524th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, cleans the outer cockpit of an F-16 from the 522nd Fighter Squadron on May 27. Nearly 400 Cannon Airmen and 18 F-16s deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam to suport security responsibilities throughout the Asia-Pacificregion, (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airmen from the 522nd Fighter Squadron, the "Fireballs", and 522nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen deployed over the weekend as a portion of the Aerospace Expeditionary Force 7/8 rotation from Cannon Air Force Base. 

The current deployment is the last rotation of the AEF cycle for Cannon as the 27th Fighter Wing. 

"It's kind of bittersweet for us," said Lt. Col. Tod Fingal, 522nd Fighter Squadron commander. "The 27th FW has a legacy at Cannon." 

The Airmen are going to a Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility and will participate in a number of training exercises with foreign allies and other U.S. military services, said Colonel Fingal. 

The deployment of forces throughout the Pacific provides unique opportunities to integrate various forces into joint, coalition, and bilateral training from forward operating bases. 

The 522nd FS has been training for the deployment for a year, said Colonel Fingal. "Our guys and gals are ready and our families know how important our job is." 

Deploying to PACAF demonstrates the continued U.S. commitment to fulfill its security responsibilities throughout the Western Pacific. The Airmen are expected to be gone for four to six months. 

Upon returning to Cannon AFB, the 522nd FS will begin to inactivate. It will be the final squadron of the 27th FW that inactivates and will be here following the change of command to Air Force Special Operations Command.