Utah Air National Guard members return from Middle East deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lillian Harnden
  • 151 ARW/PA
Family members welcomed home 14 members of the 130th Engineering Installation Squadron as they returned from deployment at the Salt Lake City International Airport, October 21.

The returning Guardmembers served a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom throughout several Middle East countries including: Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Danielle Herrscher, the wife of returning Guardmember1st Lt. Brian Herrscher, described how she felt when she saw her husband coming down the stairs. "I couldn't get to him fast enough. I kind of wanted to bulldoze everyone over, grab him, give him a hug and a kiss and let the kids get a hold of him too. I'm really excited and happy to have him back with our family."

"Feels great being back home; there's so much support here," said Brian Herrscher after hugging his wife, kids, parents and extended family members. "The deployment was great too, and very eye opening. We live in such a great country. We're doing good things over there. We're helping people out, so it's definitely worthwhile. It's a sacrifice, but I feel great that I can at least do my part, help out and try to make a difference."

John and Janene Class, the parents of two Utah Air National Guardmembers, (returning son Staff Sgt. Lamont Class and deployed son Airman 1st Class Corbin Class scheduled to return in November) described their family's pride for the son's service and the sacrifice they all faced during the deployment.

"We couldn't be more proud of our sons," said John Class. "The Guard has given both the boys a good direction."

"It's been hard on the kids, because they are so young they don't understand," said Janene Class.

"It's been hard on Grandpa too," said John Class as Janene laughed. "We've been helping Lamont's wife, Jill: fixing cars, working on the house, and driving back and forth between houses. So it will be nice to get them home. We can do what we can, but we can't take his place."

One of the onlookers swept up into the commotion at the baggage claim area of the terminal was David Norton, a Highland, Utah resident returning from a business trip. Norton stated he wanted to stay for the Guardsmen's arrival because homecomings had special meaning for him after welcoming his Texan brother-in-law home last week. He witnessed his sister's sacrifice first-hand and helped her when he could with caring for her two kids, one with special needs.

"I have a new deep found respect for the amazing sacrifice of military members," said Norton. "The spouses and kids too are beyond hero status in my book. Homecomings are what America is all about."

Also among the crowd of family members and onlookers who greeted the returning Guardmembers were: Utah's Lt. Governor, Greg Bell; The Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton; commander of the Utah Air National Guard, Col. Samuel Ramsay; and commander of the 130th Engineer Installation Squadron, Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias.

"It's good to get them back," said Ramsay. "Once they get over there they split them up and send them to different countries, but it's great to get them all back together in one big team."

Tobias explained the nature of their deployment mission and bragged about some of their accomplishments.

"Their job was building infrastructure so the warfighter can communicate," said Tobias. "These guys were amazing. They built a 170 foot radio tower in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, but they had to use a helicopter to do it because the crane wasn't tall enough."

Tobias also thanked the returning Guardmembers and their families for their sacrifice, stating that one Airman had to leave behind an 11-day-old baby, and another Airman had a baby arrive one week after he left.