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Homestead Airmen return from Iraq

by Senior Airman Erik Hofmeyer
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/16/2007 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- More than 260 Airmen from Homestead Air Reserve Base were welcomed home Aug. 13 as they returned from supporting the war on terrorism at Balad Air Base, Iraq.

The Airmen were bused from the flightline to the reception area where hundreds of family members, friends, elected officials and local media representatives awaited their arrival. 

Banners from previous 482nd Fighter Wing overseas campaigns hung from the ceiling of Building 200 as food, balloons and signs added to the festive atmosphere.

Reservists formed into two parallel reception lines where they stood at the position of attention, ready for the returning servicemembers to pass through as they stepped off the buses and headed toward the welcome home party, while the song "We are the champions" blared from the sound system.

The Airmen of the 93rd Fighter Squadron received glowing reports from overseas, said Col. Randy Falcon, the 482nd Fighter Wing commander, who congratulated and welcomed the reservists home after the initial outpouring of emotion calmed.

The welcome home "was fantastic," said Senior Master Sgt. Alan Simmons, the 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supervisor, when describing the homecoming. "It was quite a surprise."

This arrival of the main body of Airmen preceded the F-16 Fighting Falcons, in which five pilots flying F-16 arrived Aug. 14 and five more returned Aug. 15.

Some reservists have been in Iraq for as little as a month and others for as many as four months supporting U.S. and coalition ground forces in Iraq. The Airmen represented the gamut of maintenance specialties needed to generate hundreds of close-air support and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"It was a very successful deployment," Sergeant Simmons said. "I volunteered knowing that we would greatly help our servicemembers on the ground."

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