Thracian Summer 18 wraps up in Bulgaria

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A U.S. Air Force Airman with the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshalls a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to its parking spot in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, July 22. During Thracian Summer, 37th Airlift Squadron pilots flew more than 120 hours during 48 sorties to meet objectives and build partnership capacity with Bulgarian partners.

PLOVDIV, Bulgaria — Three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and more than 60 personnel deployed to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from Ramstein Air Base for Thracian Summer 18 returned home July 22.

During the 12-day forward training deployment, the 37th Airlift Squadron facilitated training to improve interoperability with NATO allies from Bulgaria. The training included 48 sorties and countless man hours invested in coordinating missions, maintaining aircraft, and the necessary support functions to complete objectives.

“The success of this exercise is due to all of the efforts of everyone (who participated)” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Pete Wolber, 37th AS chief of scheduling and mission commander for Thracian Summer 18. “Without the support of every unit we couldn’t have executed the mission.”

Other accomplishments of the exercise included completion of 2,173 training events, 347 of which were night specific events.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Antawn Kimes, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron guidance and control systems journeyman, performs a write up for an electronic circuit break unit swap out in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, July 17. Members of the 86th AMXS were integral to the success of Thracian Summer 18 by ensuring the aircraft were ready for flight.

Members also helped to build partnership capacity by participating in three C-27 Spartan aircraft interflies, one fighter engagement sortie, and two 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron integration training events with members of the Bulgarian Medical Military Academy to meet both 37th AS and Bulgarian objectives.

“This year marks around 10 to 11 years that we have been working together now, and we always manage to gain something new” said Bulgarian armed forces Gen. Yavor Mateev, 68th Special Forces Brigade commander. “Our relationship is very successful and very beneficial for both sides.”

Throughout the 121 hours of flight time during Thracian Summer 18, deployed members helped support the dropping of 647 Bulgarian special forces paratroopers, to provide training opportunities to NATO allies.

“Even with the difficulties because of the weather we did a good job, and the most important thing is we conducted everything safely,” said Mateev. “We are looking forward to conducting an even more successful exercise in the Fall. Thank you for everything that was done, and that everything was safe.”