Connecticut Air National Guard honors deployers at homecoming ceremony

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

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.”