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151 ARW Airmen return from Manas

  • Published
  • By Maj. Krista DeAngelis
  • 151 ARW/PA
After two months of performing 24-hour operations and 6+ hour missions, more than 130 Airmen from the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah Air National Guard, returned home this week from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyz Republic.

Families and friends clapped and cheered as 30 members of the contingent arrived home on Aug. 2. Throughout the two months, Airmen were helping fight the ongoing war on terror by providing operations, maintenance and additional support to KC-135 aircraft responsible for refueling Coalition aircraft operating in the skies above Afghanistan.

"It was a very busy deployment," said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Thompson, a boom operator with the 151st. "We set several records out there...and did a lot of flying."

One of the wing's maintainers echoed the high ops tempo.

"We had a pretty hectic flying schedule...maintenance was always busy," said Staff Sgt. Jason Young, 151st Maintenance Squadron. "We typically launched 10 to 12 sorties per shift, and worked 12-hour days."

But their hard work paid off, and the wing broke several significant records while deployed.

"We did 17 launches and off-loaded over 1.5 million pounds of fuel in one day," said Sergeant Thompson. "It feels wonderful to be a part of that record with how high the ops tempo was."

The 151st ARW is only the second ANG tanker unit to deploy to Manas AB. The expeditionary combat wings on the base are comprised of a mixture of Active Duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen, as well as government civilians and contractors, which embody the Total Force concept.

"Having the opportunity to interact with the active duty was great because they are out there much longer," said Sergeant Thompson. "The fact that we were there to help alleviate some of pain for the active duty [was good]."

The consensus seemed clear that the returning Airmen were proud of the missions they accomplished and enjoyed their deployment.

"It makes me feel good to be a part of the mission...and give gas to the fighters and bombers," said Sergeant Thompson. "The highlight for me was supporting the troops who were actually doing the fighting on the ground."