Twenty-eight Airmen of the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Civil Engineer Squadron are returning home over the next 30 days after completing six-month-long missions working out of several air bases in Southwest Asia, including inside Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
This is the largest and longest deployment of civil engineers in the history of the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Civil Engineer Squadron in peacetime or wartime. A cycle of several deployments began in June for the 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, with the last group of Airmen leaving New Castle, Delaware the later part of July.
Half-a-dozen Airmen returned home last weekend, and another half-a-dozen Airmen return tomorrow. The remainder return over the next 30 days, arriving home at Baltimore-Washington Airport in small groups, greeted by unit leadership and their families and allowed to go home before returning for post-deployment in-briefs a few days later.
The Airmen worked in various civil engineer jobs as they witnessed the end of the coalition combat mission in Iraq as Operation Iraqi Freedom transitioned to Operation New Dawn on Sept. 1, 2010, with a few Airmen remaining in Iraq as others were moved to other air bases in the region.
"Our 28 deployed civil engineers have completed their most demanding assignment since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. They have operated for six months in four nations and applied their professional skills to wide range of required construction, maintenance and other mission support tasks. We are thrilled that a small number are already home or en route, while the remainder of our Airmen will be coming home sometime between Christmas day and mid-January," said 166th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Jonathan H. Groff
, Delaware Air National Guard.
The Delaware Airmen help make up numerous work sections of four different expeditionary civil engineer squadrons at four bases in Southwest Asia combat zones. Sixteen unit Airmen worked in Kuwait, three Airmen worked in Afghanistan, and other nine Airmen worked inside Iraq and at an air base in another nation in Southwest Asia.
In Kuwait, the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
is under the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing located at Ali Al Salem Air Base. The 386th AEW is the primary tactical airlift hub for re-supply missions supporting coalition operations in Iraq and provides combat service support to land component forces throughout the Persian Gulf region and Iraq. Website: http://www.386aew.afcent.af.mil
In Afghanistan, the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
is under the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing located at Bagram Airfield. Many Airmen of the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing have previously operated from this air base flying unit C-130 aircraft. Website: http://www.bagram.afcent.af.mil
In Iraq, the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
is under the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing located at Sather Air Base. The 447th ECES is part of the 447th Air Expeditionary Group which ensures the movement of personnel, equipment, and materials for U.S. and Coalition forces throughout USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. With support from the 321 AEW, the 447 AEG helps advise and assist the Iraqi Air Force in developing a credible regional airpower partner. Website: http://www.sather.afcent.af.mil
Located in another nation in Southwest Asia, the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
is under the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, one of the largest, most diverse expeditionary wings in the Air Force, providing combat airpower and support for Operations New Dawn, Enduring Freedom and through support of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The wing and its associate units operate more than 100 aircraft, making the base a large hub for humanitarian airlift activity while providing mission-essential combat power, aeromedical evacuation and intelligence support for three theaters of operations. Website: http://www.379aew.afcent.af.mil
The Delaware Airmen performed skilled trades work as electricians, plumbers, HVAC specialists, heavy equipment operators, engineer assistants, and specialists in structures, emergency management, fire protection, explosive ordnance disposal and force protection. Some Airmen were required to perform a different job than their primary Air Force job.
This is the third time the 166th Civil Engineer Squadron has been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but only the first time the unit has been federally mobilized. On the two previous deployments, unit members served on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, then inside Kuwait.
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