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Connecticut unit receives warm send off prior to deployment

Airmen with the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn., stand in formation during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Airmen with the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn., stand in formation during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Family members and friends look on as members of the 103rd Air Control Squadron are recognized during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Connecticut Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Family members and friends look on as members of the 103rd Air Control Squadron are recognized during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Connecticut Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Airmen with the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn., stand in formation during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Airmen with the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn., stand in formation during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

WILLIAM A. O'NEILL ARMORY - Hartford, Conn. -- Approximately 80 Airmen from the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn., were celebrated during a formal send-off ceremony held at the William A. O'Neill Armory in Hartford April 25, 2012. The Air National Guard unit has been mobilized and will deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Ladies and gentlemen, [standing] before you are great American patriots, the pride and joy of the Connecticut National Guard. I know I speak for us all when I say, Connecticut prays for your safe return," said Maj. Gen. Thad Martin, The Adjutant General and commander of the Connecticut National Guard.

In their deployed location, the unit will be responsible for the control of coalition airspace in the region.

"A little-known detail about this low-key, high-speed unit from Orange, Connecticut, is that since September 11th, 2001, nearly half of the Airmen standing before you today have deployed previously," said General Martin.

The unit has participated in every major air campaign of the last decade deploying members and equipment to Turkey, the Bahamas, Columbia, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Hungary in support of military actions: Operation Display Determination, Operation Support Justice, Operation Deny Flight, Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Constant Vigil and Operation Southern Watch.

For this upcoming OEF tasking, more than 80 personnel are deploying to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in support of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, responsible for the control of coalition airspace in the region.

"You and your loved ones are truly examples of what keeps our nation strong--with a commitment and a love for family and country. It is your courage and your sweat that is keeping America free, and we will never, ever forget your sacrifice to us," Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman said.

The 103rd Air Control Squadron is a Control and Reporting Center (CRC), responsible to the Air Operations Center for providing the critical ground Command and Control, Theater Air Defense, and Air Tasking Order execution capability for the Joint Force Air Component Commander.

This is the fourth partial mobilization in support of the Global War on Terrorism for the 103rd ACS since Sept. 11, 2001.

"I hope it will be a small comfort to you, that those of us here at home will have you in our hearts and thoughts. You are all heroes to us; your service and your sacrifice is appreciated more than you ever will know," Lieutenant Governor Wyman said.