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Mission Ready Airmen Case Studies: Two A-10 pilots, the tank destroyers

  • Published
  • By Joseph Gangemi

Air Education and Training Command is reviewing moments of aviation history to reflect the importance of Agile Combat Employment, in addition to the warrior mindset and mission readiness its Airmen must sustain while preparing for the future fight.

During Desert Storm’s final phase on Feb. 25, 1991, Capt. Eric "Fish" Salmonson and 1st Lt. John "Karl" Marks, flying A-10s, destroyed 23 Iraqi tanks. Operating from forward operating bases, they swiftly neutralized enemy armor in rear areas.

Through their placement, much like the concept of ACE today, they were allowed to maneuver air assets close to an enemy’s vital lines of supply and engagement.

Their initial sortie, aided by an F/A-18 Hornet, eliminated eight tanks. Additional missions took down eight with the last mission taking down seven, marking a historic anti-tank feat in Air Force history. This strategic air assault disrupted vital enemy supply lines, tipping the ground battle heavily in favor of allied forces. Salmonson and Marks' bravery showcased the pivotal role of air power in achieving decisive victories, cementing their legacy in Desert Storm's success.

"The ability to disrupt lines of communication, supply and reinforcement makes ACE a critical element in any war plans hinged on strategic competitors,,” said Gary Boyd, AETC historian. “Training provides Airmen who can operate effectively, with resiliency, in challenging combat environments.”