A T-Bolt's last ride

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jeremy D. Wolff
  • 366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In April the 389th Fighter Squadron "Thunderbolts" returned here from a six-month deployment in Southwest Asia.

As the 20 or so F-15E Strike Eagles taxied in from the runway, the first to come to a stop was that of 389th FS Commander, Lt Col. Gary Marlowe. He and approximately 500 airmen from the 389th FS, 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and other support units spent their time overseas in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

It would go down as a significant achievement for Marlowe and the 389th, dropping over 5,000 munitions on ISIS targets in support of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the most ever by a single absent deployment. Not only was the volume of munitions staggering but the level of accuracy speaks to the perfectionist mindset instilled by Marlowe, which resulting in a 99 percent hit percentage.

"We were running 24 hour a day operations, 7 days a week for 6 months," said Lt Col. David Och, director of operations under Marlowe and new 389th FS commander. "In addition to flying as one of our most highly qualified, highly experienced instructor pilots he was responsible for the well-being of the squadron, its facilities and personnel throughout the entire deployment. "

They flew 1,103 combat hours and produced 2,019 combat sorties, a nearly 50 percent growth from previous deployments, all of which transpired under the diligent leadership and command of Marlowe.

"For the entire six months I saw him at work every day in uniform working either as a fighter pilot or as a commander, pretty much 12 hours a day," said Captain David Garcia, 389th Fighter Squadron A-flight flight commander. "That is definitely unique to him, everybody takes breaks, except for Col Marlowe. I don't know how he did it; the Air Force got a full six months out of him."

Marlowe's time as the 389th commander was not only highlighted by impressive statistics and professional accolades, but his connection with his fellow airmen is what sets him apart from the rest.

"He and his wife were great for the squadron, you'd always feel like you could walk into his door and talk to him about whatever," said Garcia. "He understood people extremely well, not just in how they are on a personal basis but he and his wife knew about you, your wife your kids your family. Also any issues that would come up on a personal level that would factor into our professional lives in addition to getting people to where they wanted to go professionally."

On May 22 Lt Col. Marlowe relinquished the command he had held since June of 2015 to Lt Col. Och. Although his time at the helm has come to an end, "Ziggy" definitely won't be forgotten around the halls of the 389th or on the Mountain Home Air Force Base flight line.

"What made him a good commander was his absolute devotion to his squadron and the people who worked for him, which manifested as a tireless work ethic to support the squadron and achieving its mission vision and priorities," said Och. "Big picture is he was a phenomenal commander, one of the best I've seen if not the best I've seen. He's definitely missed by the T-Bolts."