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Thirty-six Airmen from the Delaware Air National Guard to return home from Afghanistan Thursday May 19 after a three-month tour of duty

Release Number: 030511

A homecoming for a contingent of 36 Airmen of the Delaware Air National Guard from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan will occur May 19 at New Castle Airport when the Airmen arrive home aboard a unit C-130 Hercules transport aircraft used to conduct combat missions in Afghanistan.

This will be the first return of Delaware ANG Airmen from Afghanistan since six aircraft and about 160 Airmen departed in February, and the first return of unit forces since U.S. military special forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, at an al Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1.

(Note to news media -- request media EMBARGO until AFTER the aircraft lands for a small homecoming surprise: one of the returning Airmen is a new father of his first child, a daughter, born while he was in Afghanistan. They are residents of Mount Joy, Pa. The returning father, a sergeant, will be given an advance personal reunion with his wife and new daughter on the flight line immediately after the aircraft lands. News media will be permitted onto the flight line to photograph this reunion. Short interviews with the parents will be allowed after the Airmen in-process. All other parts of the full release below are for immediate release.)

166th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Jonathan H. Groff said, "We anticipate the homecoming this week for this first group of deployed Airmen-warriors, and remain grateful for their faithful service and for the faithful service rendered by the many hundreds of unit Airmen who have deployed to Southwest Asia since our initial deployments to Afghanistan began in October, 2001."

About 125 of the unit's maintenance and operations Airmen remain on duty in Afghanistan as they continue to fly and maintain the unit's several C-130 aircraft still engaged in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and will return home sometime next month. Several dozen unit Airmen from other Delaware ANG units are also on duty in Southwest Asia.

News media are invited, but are asked to call ahead. Media should arrive as early as 10:30 a.m., but no later than 11:00 a.m. 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."

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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