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MacDill hosts first of numerous '15 cross-service exercises

A VFA-106 crew chief from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., prepares an F-18 Super Hornet for flight while exercising at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015.  The VFA-106’s mission is to serve as the fleet replacement squadron, where they train the fleet's newest winged aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A VFA-106 crew chief from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., prepares an F-18 Super Hornet for flight while exercising at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. The VFA-106’s mission is to serve as the fleet replacement squadron, where they train the fleet's newest winged aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy F-18 Super Hornet breaks through the clouds during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Eighteen Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy F-18 Super Hornet breaks through the clouds during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Eighteen Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A VFA-106 crew chief from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., waits for the crew of an F-18 Superhornet at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Two T-34’s and 18 F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

A VFA-106 crew chief from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., waits for the crew of an F-18 Superhornet at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Two T-34’s and 18 F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

Two pilots with the VFA-106 Strike Fighter Squadron, Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., walk away from an F-18 Super Hornet after a training flight at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 9, 2015. Pilots trained on air-to-ground scenarios at MacDill’s Avon Park Air Force Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

Two pilots with the VFA-106 Strike Fighter Squadron, Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., walk away from an F-18 Super Hornet after a training flight at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 9, 2015. Pilots trained on air-to-ground scenarios at MacDill’s Avon Park Air Force Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

A Navy T-34 Turbomentor passes through the clouds during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Two T-34’s and 18 F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy T-34 Turbomentor passes through the clouds during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Two T-34’s and 18 F-18 Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Petty Officer 2nd Classes Kyle McDonough and Benjamin Thiel, ordnance team leaders, discuss load plans while exercising at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015.  McDonough and Thiel participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that included the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jet aircraft from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Petty Officer 2nd Classes Kyle McDonough and Benjamin Thiel, ordnance team leaders, discuss load plans while exercising at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. McDonough and Thiel participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that included the F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jet aircraft from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

U.S. Navy Seaman Brandon Brown, an aviation electrician airman from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., repairs an antenna during a pilot training exercise held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. The exercise consisted of a series of air-to-ground scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

U.S. Navy Seaman Brandon Brown, an aviation electrician airman from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., repairs an antenna during a pilot training exercise held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. The exercise consisted of a series of air-to-ground scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy F-18 Super Hornet lands during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Eighteen Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy F-18 Super Hornet lands during a training mission held at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2015. Eighteen Hornets and Super Hornets participated in a VFA-106 Navy Training Exercise that instructed the fleet’s newest aviators on air-to-ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A Navy pilot with the VFA-106 is interviewed from local media agencies after a training flight in the F-18 Superhornet at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 9, 2015. More than 180 personnel from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., came to MacDill for a Navy Training Exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

A Navy pilot with the VFA-106 is interviewed from local media agencies after a training flight in the F-18 Superhornet at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 9, 2015. More than 180 personnel from Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., came to MacDill for a Navy Training Exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston/Released)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., --
The 6th Air Mobility Wing kicked off its first of numerous cross-service exercises, as they hosted a massive 300 sortie Navy F-18 pilot training exercise from Jan. 4-17, 2015.

The F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jet aircraft belong to the Strike-Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO SIX (VFA-106), a Navy training squadron that prepares the finest Strike Fighter aircrew and maintenance professionals for the fleet and the fleet marine force in support of combat operations around the world.

The 106th chose MacDill Air Force Base because of its top-notch accommodations, geographical location, and proximity to training specific complexes.

"The Deployed Unit Complex located at MacDill has great facilities that are able to accommodate our training, operations, and maintenance efforts," said Navy Lt. Nathan Miller, VFA-106 instructor pilot.  "MacDill is also an ideal location because of it nearness to the Avon Park Range Complex, where all of our training takes place."

The large scale exercise focused the nearly 300 flights around the air-to-ground training phase, where new pilots tested their skills at a bombing range.   During their immersion, the VFA-106 was able to successfully introduce future F/A-18 pilots to the critical training that will be demanded of them once they go to their operational squadrons.

"MacDill AFB supported our operations and personnel with extreme professionalism and dedication," said Miller.  "We were able to create a great working relationship that allowed us to maximize our training efforts and pave the way for future operations with the 6th [Air Mobility Wing]."

On top of the success of the training exercise was an overwhelming positive outcry from the local community.

Leading the charge in community involvement was 2nd Lt. Patrick Gargan, 6th AMW media operation Officer, who organized multiple media days and the release of up-to-the-minute information on the exercise's status. Within the short duration of the exercise, Gargan's efforts lead to over 100,000 FaceBook views, 11 local media stories, and 22 photos for the Department of Defense.

"With such a fantastic community support system, we want to do all we can to give back. For some all it takes is a couple of weeks of the world's finest pilots showcasing their second-to-none skills," said Gargan. "The 6th Air Mobility Wing is proud to host such events that serve so many valuable purposes. We are extremely excited at this year's upcoming schedule of exercises."

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MacDill AFB supports numerous Air Force and Joint exercises throughout the year, including Global Thunder, Vigilant Shield, and RED FLAG.