Wisconsin Airmen return home from final F-16 combat mission
by Staff Sgt. Cameron Lewis
Wisconsin National Guard
MADISON, Wis. – Nearly three months ago, more than 300 Airmen left their families and friends to accomplish the final F-16 Fighting Falcon combat deployment for the 115th Fighter Wing.
As the Wisconsin Air National Guardsmen and active duty Airmen with the 115th FW closed the chapter on the units 28 year history of flying the F-16, their dedication to excellence and tenacity remained evident in everything they did.
Now, after flying over 3,000 combat hours in 12 named operations across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, it’s time for those Airmen to be reunited with their families as they are welcomed home from their historic overseas deployment.
“Obviously we can all feel the excitement in the air,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in his speech to families of service members waiting to see their loved ones arrive at Dane County Regional Airport. “I know that this day came at a price including months of separation, anxiety & stress, especially as your loved ones missed the holidays and family gatherings over the last several months.”
Important life events, holidays, and family traditions don’t go away during a deployment and are all part of the sacrifice service members make.
“Over the past three months, five of our families celebrated the birth of a child with five fathers not being there to welcome them,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Bart Van Roo, the commander of the 115th FW. “Congratulations to the Parrott family, the Rasmussen family, the Lustraaf family, the Frazier family and the Wetzel family on your new addition, I know your Airmen are so excited to meet your new arrivals.”
Without supportive and understanding families the guard members could not do what they do whether at home or abroad.
“All of you show remarkable resilience and dedication to the service your loved ones have chosen,” said Evers. “Our Wisconsin National Guard represents the best of the best and your loved ones service makes me and every other Wisconsinite very, very proud.”