Kentucky Air Guard completes mission in Persian Gulf

Story by Master Sgt. Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Trevor Sutherland, a pilot in the 165th Airlift Squadron, embraces his family during a homecoming ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., July 8, 2015. Sutherland and 29 other Kentucky Air Guardsmen returned from a deployment to the Persian Gulf Region, where they’ve been supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel since February. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thirty Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing returned to the Kentucky Air National Guard base July 8, 2015, concluding the unit’s most recent overseas deployment to the Persian Gulf region. More than 100 friends and family were on hand to welcome them, waving flags and homemade signs as the Airmen’s C-130 aircraft taxied to its parking spot on the base flight line.

Lt. Col. Scott Ledford, a pilot in the 165th Airlift Squadron, embraces a family member during a homecoming ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., July 8, 2015. Ledford and 29 other Kentucky Air Guardsmen returned from a deployment to the Persian Gulf Region, where they’ve been supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel since February. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

The wing began deploying aircraft and personnel to Southwest Asia in February, flying airlift missions in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the follow-on mission to Operation Enduring Freedom.Since that time, more than 100 Kentucky Air Guardsmen have deployed, serving on tours ranging from two to four months. While overseas, they joined forces with Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard to fly C-130 airlift missions across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Africa.

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In total, the Missouri-Kentucky Team flew more than 1,000 combat sorties that delivered over 3,500 short tons of cargo and nearly 4,000 personnel to destinations across the AOR.

The deployment marks the sixth time in the past 12 years that the Kentucky Air Guard has sent its aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel to support U.S. military operations in U.S. Central Command. The wing deployed aviation assets there in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012, operating from multiple undisclosed locations and Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

The wing’s non-aviation personnel also have been heavily engaged around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, logging thousands of deployments to dozens of overseas locations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. In October, more than 70 of the wing’s Airmen deployed to Africa to support Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

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