TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida —
Dominating the airspace is a mission for all members of the US Air Force, which makes Checkered Flag a valuable resource not only for active duty units, but also for the Air National Guard.
For Checkered Flag 22-2, the Oregon ANG sent F-15 Eagles from the 123rd Fighter Squadron to Tyndall. The integration of total and joint forces provided a unique training experience for Pilot Captain Alan “Gang” Greene.
“Flying with active units means more jets are available, so you can do more missionary training,” Greene explained. “You can also fly with different cells, allowing you to integrate and determine new game plans depending on who you’re flying with.”
Greene, a native of Sunnyvale, Calif., knew he wanted to fly when he was 15 years old. His family background in the military easily motivated him to pursue his calling.
“My great-uncle was an Airman from Tuskegee,” Greene said. “Hearing his stories and knowing what he did inspired me to not only become a pilot, but also to become a fighter pilot. My dad’s whole family has people who were in WWII and Vietnam Just having that story behind you, there’s a lot of inspiration there.
He continued his studies, but pilot places were extremely limited. For seven years he flew on the civilian side, but after his brother joined the US Navy, he changed course back to his original purpose: to fly fighter jets. In order to secure his place as a fighter pilot, he applied to ANG units and was selected by the 123rd FS. In March 2018, he got his commission.
He has since become a qualified F-15C pilot. Being part of Checkered Flag, with Combat Archer 22.08, is an experience he’s never had before.
“There were a lot of firsts for me here,” Greene said. “I really liked being able to fight against other fighter jets, like the F-22, which I had never done before; fired a missile, which I had never done before; lots of fighter integration with 4th and 5th generation aircraft. I feel like it’s only [trainings] like that, that you are able to do that. It gives you the opportunity to expand your experience and say “I did this”.
Green took a break from his goal, but that didn’t stop him from achieving success. He seeks to inspire those around him as well as those who wish to become fighter pilots in the future.
“It’s not hard to be a fighter pilot as long as you know how to chase it,” Greene said. “When you finally get here, you really see what’s going on in the world and how you can contribute to it. When you talk about things like Checkered Flag, you see how that applies to potential real-world scenarios, how you’re going to be able to make a difference. I think that’s an important thing for people who maybe do jobs that don’t seem important because if those jobs aren’t done then we can’t get on the jet or perform as we want. Everything is important, even if you don’t see it.