UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Minot troops receive warm welcome home

Air Combat Command News


By Tech. Sgt. Brian Orban 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (ACCNS) -- After fighting the global war on terrorism for the past three months, about 170 deployed members of the 5th Bomb Wing returned to their families and friends during a welcome home celebration Dec. 2.

Over the next few weeks, the 5th BW expects to greet its remaining contingent of about 500 airmen who deployed to forward operating locations around the world in late August and early September as part of the Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Force plan.

The deployment marked the first time the wing deployed a bulk of its troops - nearly a fifth of the wing's active duty force - as part of its scheduled AEF commitment.

Col. Dan Charchian, the 5th Operations Group commander, said it was hard sending his people off to fight, but having them back safe is a great feeling.

"They did a great job supporting our national leadership," Colonel Charchian said. "Americans should be proud of the mission their sons and daughters trained so hard to perform."

The expeditionary team set specific goals aimed at developing a unified global strike team, said Maj. James Katrenak, the 5th Maintenance Squadron commander.

"We were very successful at meeting those goals," said Major Katrenak, who returned from his second deployment in the past year.

For people like Senior Airman Nathan Chavez, a 5th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment mechanic, this was his first deployment in his three years in the Air Force. Having a chance to deploy improved his understanding of the Air Force's role in the ongoing fight against terror, he said.

"All the hard work we did really paid off," he said. "We got to see everything we do in action. We got to see the outcome of everything that we do."

Deployments are a fact of life for security forces troops like Senior Airman Brad Tarbox from the 5th Security Forces Squadron. Airman Tarbox, who joined the Air Force in 1998, felt a bit nervous about going on his first deployment. However, once he arrived there and worked out a steady routine, everything fell into a familiar pace.

Having a routine was equally important for families left behind. Airman Tarbox's wife, Rachel, helped build a support network with spouses of other deployed members.

"We made it a habit of going out without the kids at least once a week and being around adults," she said.

Keeping in contact with her husband and taking the deployment one day at a time also made the time go by faster, Mrs. Tarbox said.

Others, like Chavez's wife, Erica, found different ways to deal with the lengthy separation. She packed up their two children, and visited her family in another state.

"I just kept busy and spent time with the kids to keep their minds off the fact their dad was gone," she said.

Looking back on the past three months, deployed members like Capt. Candace Adair, the 5th Mission Support Squadron customer support chief, were happy to be home in time for the holidays.

They deployed during the late summer, so the returning troops weren't sure what the weather would be when they came home.

"We were hoping to see snow," Major Katrenak said.

He got his wish as the evening's flurries turned into a light snowfall blanketing the base overnight.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list