by Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 94th Airlift Wing are returning from a four-month deployment, during which they formed half of a combat ready squadron—the other half of the squadron consisted of active duty Airmen from Pope Air Force Base, NC.
"On behalf of the 94th Airlift Wing and everyone on this installation and in this community, welcome home!" said Col. Timothy E. Tarchick, 94th Airlift Wing commander. "Thank you for getting it done!"
The first wave of 53 Airmen arrived Friday. Over the course of the deployment, the Aircrews flew 832 sorties, which amounted to over 2,700 flying hours. Approximately 1,850 of those hours were combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"They carried 5,052 passengers, 2,650 tons of cargo, 164 distinguished visitors, and, most importantly, 430 aeromedical evacuees," said Tarchick. "They flew missions into Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Djibouti, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Jordan."
The deployed 94th Airmen responded immediately to bring medical supplies to Yemen after a suicide bomber killed and wounded over 100 Yemini military. They were also the first into Lebanon with humanitarian supplies and relief vehicles to support Syrian refugees, who were then overwhelming the abilities of the Lebanese people to help.
These aircrews manned the first Air Force aircraft to land in an Al Qaeda-controlled part of the Yemeni countryside, forcing them to approach and land without the use of radio communication with the airfield.
"To the men and women of the 94th AW that just returned, you lived up to the highest standards of this unit, the Air Force, and the tactical airlift community," said Tarchick. "These operations and maintenance teams worked closely together to overcome early difficulties in maintenance resulting in a 27% increase in aircraft availability."
Their teamwork also resulted in 33 days without a dropped mission and a near perfect record of 97.6% maintenance effectiveness. The maintenance Airmen were recognized as the best maintenance unit for the month of July.
Additionally, one of the deployed aircrews was recognized for expertly managing degrading engines and was awarded the Wing Flying Safety Award for the month of July.
Airmen were greeted by family members who they had not seen since early May.
"A lot more than you think can happen in four months," said Kelly Martin, wife of Master Sgt. Joseph Martin, of the 94th Maintenance Group. "I've been keeping busy with our girls; camping, swimming, and activities like that. Our oldest girl started high school, so that was a big event. It's going to be an adjustment, having him go back to taking care of the things I've had to take care of."
Kelly Martin also said that she was extremely proud of her husband and couldn't wait for his return. Master Sgt. Martin has been deployed before.