A small group of maintainers from the 419th Fighter Wing helped make history when they readied F-16 aircraft for missions in support of the Afghan presidential election Aug. 20."I worked on the flightline for 12 hours straight on the day of the election and we were very busy," said Senior Airman Dallin Smith. "Later, we watched the world news and saw coverage of the (events) that our jets participated in. It was great knowing we were contributing to such an important mission and our efforts were visible around the world."The 419th maintainers are deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and are assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. They are responsible for around-the-clock aircraft maintenance including weapons loading, sortie generation and aircraft launch and recovery.The group deployed in July with nearly hundreds from Hill's active duty 388th Fighter Wing, 421st Fighter Squadron. The deployed Hill personnel make up the first U.S. F-16 unit to be based in Afghanistan.The F-16s deliver close air support to the ongoing multinational joint operations throughout the country."The operations tempo here is high," said Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Thompson, deployed 419th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. "Operations are 24 hours, seven days per week."In addition to working long hours on the flightline, the maintainers have been busy laying the groundwork for an infrastructure to support ongoing F-16 operations."Most of our challenges came early on because the F-16 supply lines weren't established when we first arrived," Thompson said. "In the beginning, we didn't always have all the necessary tools, equipment, or parts."Mother Nature has also made things a bit more difficult from time to time."With daily temperatures hovering in the mid-90s or higher, heat is definitely a factor," Smith said. "We're drinking a lot of water.""Darkness is also an issue as the flightline has very little lighting," added Airman Smith, who works the night shift. "A lot of my duties are accomplished by the light of a headlamp or flashlight."The 419th maintainers are due home in October. They are deployed alongside 5,000 Airmen who make up the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram.