Thursday, March 25, 1999

Tankers from isles
supporting Kosovo
military operations

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Hawaii Air National Guard tankers are participating in the NATO air operations over Yugoslavia, refueling aircraft involved in strikes against targets in Kosovo.

Some 150 members of the guard's 154th Wing were deployed to Istres, France, on Feb. 27 to provide refueling support for aircraft monitoring the no-fly zone over Bosnia.

The 203rd Air Refueling Squadron operates KC-135 stratotankers in 24-hour-per-day support service for aircraft from Germany, Britain, France, Spain andPortugal as well as the United States.

Lt. Col. Edwin "Skip" Vincent, commander of the squadron,which is based at Hickam Air Force Base, reported back that "The morale of our HIANG personnel is extremely high."

There are also 18 Air Force members from Hickam deployed to NATO operations in the European Theater.

The service members were assigned earlier, not as a result of the Kosovo air strikes.

The Hickam public affairs office said details about the people, their mission and their location will not be released as a matter of security.

The Air Force News Service has a Web site called "Crisis in Kosovo" to report U.S. military involvement. It is at None of Pearl Harbor's 13 warships and 22 submarines was involved in yesterday's NATO strike on Kosovo.

There are no immediate plans to deploy any of the vessels from the islands, a spokesman said.

But the Pearl Harbor-based nuclear attack submarine USS Pasadena is in the Persian Gulf along with 27 other ships and the carrier USS Enterprise battle group.

None of the 25th Infantry Division's three brigades has been placed on alert, an Army spokeswoman said.

There are 9,294 soldiers assigned to the division's two brigades at Schofield Barracks, with another brigade of nearly 3,000 soldiers at Fort Lewis in Washington state.

Also unaffected at this time are the 7,600 Marines and sailors stationed at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base.

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