160 Airmen of the Delaware Air Guard depart New Castle March 9, 11 and 13 for Afghanistan combat mission

Release Number: 020311

About 160 Delaware Air National Guard Airmen from the 166th Airlift Wing are undergoing final checklists before deploying to the Afghanistan combat zone.

The Airmen will board unit C-130H transport aircraft at the New Castle Air National Guard Base that will fly them across the Atlantic Ocean and through several times zones en route to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

The Airmen will serve three full months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, as part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. The 455th AEW is one of two Air Force wings in Afghanistan and supports members deployed throughout the country. Under the 455th AEW, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group is responsible for all expeditionary flying and aeromedical evacuation operations for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Delaware ANG Lt. Col. James Byerly will serve as the mission commander for the deploying Delaware Air Guard members, and once in theater will then serve as the commander of the 455th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The Delaware unit will serve with Airmen from the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing, located near Fort Worth, Texas.

"The neat row of eight C-130 aircraft tails on our ramp in New Castle will soon change to a couple lonely transports. It is time for fellow unit members and the families of our deploying Airmen to bid good luck and Godspeed to our Airmen warriors," said Col. Jonathan H. Groff, 166th Airlift Wing commander. "We are expeditionary Airmen, which means we conduct military operations around the world to fulfill the orders of our commander-in-chief, the president. We perform a vital mission making sure we airdrop or transport overland our warfighters and their equipment and supplies, anytime or anyplace our aircraft and aircrews are needed."

Numbers of Airmen deploying in this contingent, by unit: About 85 Airmen from the 166th Operations Group, and about 75 Airmen from the 166th Maintenance Group.

The deploying Airmen are primarily residents of the four states of Del., Pa., Md. and N.J. A modest number of Airmen reside in several other states from N.Y. to Va.

News media are invited to the Wednesday (March 9), Friday (March 11) and Sunday (March 13) morning sendoffs, but are asked to call ahead for arrival times for the two aircraft departures each day. Media must carry proper identification and will be checked at the main gate. Address: 2600 Spruance Drive, New Castle, DE 19720. Media must enter the base from Commons Boulevard and follow the signs for "Delaware Air National Guard."

Note to editors: high-resolution imagery (photos and artwork) is available for download from the Bagram Airfield website of the 455th AEW, http://www.bagram.afcent.af.mil.

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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