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Connecticut Air National Guard honors deployers at homecoming ceremony

United States Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Operations and Maintenance Groups during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The ceremony served as the official welcoming home for members of the 103rd who recently completed a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

United States Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Operations and Maintenance Groups during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The ceremony served as the official welcoming home for members of the 103rd who recently completed a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. John Saunders and Maj. Cheryl Mead, leadership for the recently deployed 103rd Operations and Maintenance Groups, along with Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, and Connecticut Air National Guard leadership, present a Connecticut state flag to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz during a Freedom Salute ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The flag flew over Syria during a combat mission on a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. John Saunders and Maj. Cheryl Mead, leadership for the recently deployed 103rd Operations and Maintenance Groups, along with Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, and Connecticut Air National Guard leadership, present a Connecticut state flag to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz during a Freedom Salute ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The flag flew over Syria during a combat mission on a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. During their four-month deployment, the 103rd Operations and Maintenance Groups were responsible for over 1,900 missions critical to military operations in their respective areas of operation. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. During their four-month deployment, the 103rd Operations and Maintenance Groups were responsible for over 1,900 missions critical to military operations in their respective areas of operation. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

United States Representative from the Second Congressional District, Joe Courtney, addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Operations and Maintenance Groups during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The ceremony served as the official welcoming home for members of the 103rd who recently completed a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

United States Representative from the Second Congressional District, Joe Courtney, addresses Airmen assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Operations and Maintenance Groups during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. The ceremony served as the official welcoming home for members of the 103rd who recently completed a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz presents the Air Force Achievement Medal to Senior Airman Thomas Norton, from the 103rd Airlift Wing, during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. This was Norton's first deployment. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz presents the Air Force Achievement Medal to Senior Airman Thomas Norton, from the 103rd Airlift Wing, during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. This was Norton's first deployment. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz presents the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal to Maj. David Monico, during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. Monico served as the director of operations for the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and led the daily operations of two Air National Guard squadrons which were melded into one max-efficient Air and Space Expeditionary Force. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz presents the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal to Maj. David Monico, during a Freedom Salute Ceremony at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn. Jan. 4, 2020. Monico served as the director of operations for the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and led the daily operations of two Air National Guard squadrons which were melded into one max-efficient Air and Space Expeditionary Force. (Photo by Tim Koster, Connecticut National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)

EAST GRANBY, Conn. --

Airmen from the 103rd Operations and Maintenance Groups stood in formation under the backdrop of an American flag hanging from the ceiling of Hangar 1 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Jan. 4, 2020. Families, wingmen, and local officials gathered to officially welcome home and honor the achievements of these Airmen, who returned from deployment to Kuwait in November 2019.

“To our Airmen: welcome home, mission accomplished, job well done, and thank you for your service to our great state, our nation, and our profession of arms,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard.

Connecticut’s deployed Airmen supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve during their four months in theater, flying 1,991 C-130H tactical airlift missions that transported a total of 18,277 passengers and 5,636 tons of cargo throughout the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.

“We’re there to support the combatant commander with his logistical needs, whatever they may be,” said Lt. Col. Neal Byrne, 103rd Maintenance Squadron commander and C-130 pilot. “We did that in our last deployment in 2017 and again in 2019 quite successfully.”

Local officials expressed their appreciation for the 103rd’s efforts.

“We are so grateful and proud of you, and we want you to know that the citizens of Connecticut have great respect and profound gratitude for your service to our state and our country,” said the Honorable Susan Bysiewicz, Lieutenant Governor for the state of Connecticut.

The 103rd’s achievements were also recognized by senior Air Force leaders, the Operations and Maintenance Groups earning the Air Mobility Command’s Meritorious Unit Award for their work during the deployment.

“We are truly in the presence of real professionals,” said Congressman Joe Courtney, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District. “Every person in the state of Connecticut should recognize the great accomplishments the 103rd achieved, and how blessed we are to have such highly-trained, highly-motivated volunteers that are doing such great work for our country.”

Much of the 103rd’s success during this deployment is a credit to the camaraderie between the unit’s Airmen, said Byrne.

“The team comes closer together and things that we thought were not possible to accomplish somehow get accomplished,” said Byrne. “That’s a team effort—that comes from people coming together and executing outside their comfort zone to great effect. It happens every time we deploy and it’s amazing to watch.”