Deployed Connecticut Airmen get a lift, in spirit and back home

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Approximately 25 Airmen from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Connecticut Air National Guard, returned home Jan. 30, 2012, after a more than six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, just in time to watch Super Bowl XLVI. The Airmen arrived by international flight into Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Arriving during early evening, they were greeted by their commander and superintendent alongside the non-profit organization Operation Welcome Home Maryland. After a quick farewell to Airmen stationed with them at the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, the Connecticut Airmen boarded two CH-47 Chinooks operated by the Connecticut Army National Guard. The citizen-warriors from their own home state personally escorted the Airmen home, a fitting end to a long deployment.

The roughly two-hour flight was short when compared to the near eight months the Airmen spent away from their families, friends and jobs. At their deployed location, the Airmen performed security duties keeping the base safe from improvised explosive devices and provided around the clock response to direct and indirect fire, known as IDF.

While deployed, "The most memorable time, was definitely Sept. 11," said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Bowman, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, explaining the base received more indirect fire events than normal. "That kind of got the blood going a little bit."

According to Bowman, when they first got to Bagram they hit the ground running and were unnerved slightly from the indirect fire, but as the days went on, they got used to the indirect fire episodes that targeted the base. Part of their mission while deployed was to spin up their active shooter program, working with non-security forces personnel to stop insider threats.

The droning whirl of the engines and thwacking of the rotors hitting the air was an oddly mind-clearing experience, a stark contrast to the emotional fanfare waiting for the Airmen at Bradley Air National Guard Base. Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, adjutant general for the state of Connecticut, were a few of the first to welcome the Airmen back to Connecticut's soil.

The reception of the security forces Airmen was definitely done in style. As the Airmen debarked the Chinooks, the still-spinning rotors added to the emotional fanfare. Like a scene out of the movies, the Airmen ran out of the back of the helicopters, across the flightline and into the arms of their families.

"I'm just ecstatic to be back home, it's been a long time and--I just want to rest," said Master Sgt. Christopher Divita, also from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron. Divita, who was greeted by his three sons, daughter and wife, said the first thing he was going to do now that he was home was, "Besides in-process tomorrow morning, I'm just going to hang out with my kids and my wife and relax."

And relax they should, because these Flying Yankees more than earned their right to put their feet up for a while, at least until they are called upon once again.