This week 125 Airmen of the Delaware Air National Guard will return home in three sets of returns after three months' duty at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Airmen will return mid-day during three of the next four days aboard flights to New Castle Airport starting tomorrow, Wednesday June 8
again on Friday June 10
, and then the final return flight on Saturday June 11
The Airmen will arrive home aboard five unit C-130 Hercules transport aircraft used to conduct combat missions in Afghanistan. An average of about 25 Airmen will arrive home aboard each aircraft.
Two aircraft will return home on Wednesday June 8 carrying about 50 Airmen total, then another two aircraft are expected home Friday June 10 carrying about 50 Airmen total, and then one aircraft is expected home Saturday June 11 carrying about 25 Airmen.
This is the largest return of Delaware ANG Airmen from Afghanistan since six aircraft and about 160 Airmen departed Delaware in early March. An initial group of 36 Airmen returned home on May 19 from Afghanistan.
166th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Jonathan H. Groff
said, "Our Delaware Air Guard C-130 aircraft maintenance and flying operations Airmen have established a record of service in the Afghanistan combat zone that they can be very proud of. These Citizen-Airmen have displayed determination, skill and excellence in everything the Air Force asked us to do, fully supporting successful combat operations by the U.S. Army, Marines, and Special Forces and our coalition allies.
"Senior Delaware National Guard leadership, family and friends will welcome the Airmen home. The returning Airmen will have a couple weeks down time with their families as they readjust back to their civilian life."
During the three-month period when the Delaware ANG C-130s operated in Afghanistan, all U.S. Air Force airlift aircraft combined completed a total of over 12,000 airlift sorties, delivered over 43,000 short tons of airlift cargo, transported over 270,000 passengers, and airdropped over 18 million pounds of supplies in Afghanistan and Iraq, with nearly 10 times more aircraft sorties in Afghanistan as compared to Iraq. Delaware Air Guard personnel and aircraft contributed to these operational numbers in a very active combat environment.
"Our 160 deployed Delaware ANG Airmen and six C-130 transport aircraft were an important part of the overall effort of dozens of airlift aircraft that supported U.S. and Coalition combat operations in Afghanistan," said Col. Groff
2011 is starting out as busy as or busier than 2010 was for each measure. Last year was the busiest in a five year tracking period for U.S. Air Force airlift aircraft in Afghanistan for each of the four key statistical areas.
Delaware C-130 aircrews used a combination of means to supply U.S. forces in Afghanistan with everything from ammunition to meals; the main method of supply was through air-land missions--landing at airfields and offloading supplies, plus container delivery system (CDS) airdrops, and C-130 low-cost low-altitude (LCLA) combat airdrops. LCLA helps to sustain those forces engaged in counterinsurgency operations throughout Afghanistan. A LCLA airdrop is accomplished by dropping bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds, with pre-packed expendable parachutes, in groups of up to four bundles per pass. The drops are termed "low-cost" reflecting the relative expense of the expendable parachutes compared to their more durable, but pricier nylon counterparts. "Low-altitude" alludes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.
Several dozen unit Airmen from Delaware ANG aeromedical evacuation, security forces, and firefighting units remain on duty in Afghanistan and in nearby nations in Southwest Asia this spring and into the summer.
Note: News media are invited, but are asked to call ahead. On Wednesday and Friday with two aircraft returning each day, media should arrive by 10:00 a.m. for the first aircraft return, and by 12:00 Noon for the second aircraft return.
For Saturday, media should arrive by 11:00 a.m. for the single aircraft return.
Media must carry proper identification and will be credentialed at the main gate, 2600 Spruance Drive, New Castle, DE 19720. Media should enter the base from Commons Boulevard and follow the signs for "Delaware Air National Guard."
Downloadable high-resolution photos of Delaware Air Guard Airmen and aircraft on recent duty in Afghanistan are available at the 166th Airlift Wing web site, http://www.166aw.ang.af.mil/photos/mediagallery.asp.
The Delaware ANG has 1,100 members, and continually deploys personnel and subordinate units around the globe.
This release is in the public domain, and any part may be used as written.
Delaware Air National Guard:
Celebrating 65 years of Citizen-Airman service to our state and nation, 1946-2011
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