BRADLEY ANG BASE, East Granby, Conn. --
On Sunday, Oct. 4, the final group of Guardsmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing returned home after being deployed to Southwest Asia to support the unit's first ever C-21 overseas deployment.
The Guardsmen from Conn. helped to fill a critical gap in operations to augment the active duty.
According to Lt. Col. Brian Burger, commander, 118th Airlift Squadron, the active-duty forces have been strapped with the current Ops tempo requiring C-21 support overseas.
"We volunteered in the Guard, between our unit and Fargo (119th Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard), to go over and relieve the active duty for four months this summer," Burger said.
The 103rd Airlift Wing's Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 118th Airlift Squadron were asked to support the overseas C-21 mission with either sixty-day or thirty-day rotations. The first round of Flying Yankees headed over to Southwest Asia back in mid-July.
"It's the first C-21 overseas deployment to Southwest Asia; we have never deployed on this scale with this number of people to go over and cover an AEF cycle," Burger said.
The deployment served as a test for not only the Flying Yankees, but the entire Air Force as it was the first time that the C-21 mission was supported by blue-suit maintainers in addition to regular contracted maintenance.
"Active Duty C-21s have been operating out of [the deployed location] with contract maintenance support for some time," said Lt. Col. Jerry McDonald, commander, 103rd Maintenance Group. "However, this is the first Guard deployment of C-21s and the first time they have been supported by "blue-suit" maintenance at a deployed location."
Most of the troops returned Sunday morning by commercial airliner into Bradley International Airport and were met there by family, friends, family support program volunteers and fellow Guardsmen. Later in the day, aircrews taxied the C-21s back here to the familiar tarmac.
Staff Sgt. Steven Sevigny, jet engine mechanic, 103rd Maintenance Squadron, returned home with an aircrew aboard one of the C-21s and got big hugs from his mom and dad.
When asked what the first thing her son said to her was, Judy Sevigny replied, "Hi, mom--I'm glad to be home. That's what he said--and I gave him a big hug and a kiss."
"We're so glad to have him back," she said.
State Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Sevigny, Conn. Army National Guard, described his feelings about his son's work in the Air National Guard.
"When we found out that he was going to be deployed, my heart felt good--it really did. I was proud of him," he said. "I mean, here I am as the State Sergeant Major? No. Here I am as a dad and really, really proud of my son just being part of all this."
"I'm extremely proud of both the Maintenance and Operations Groups for being out front in the ongoing war against terror," said McDonald.