Raider Airmen return from deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Denise Jenson
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Sept. 18 celebrates the day the Air Force became a separate branch of the military. In the midst of honoring Air Force heritage, Ellsworth families had another reason to celebrate: approximately 350 Airmen returned home from a six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, supporting Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve.

During their deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, aircrews from the 28th Bomb Wing provided critical air presence, precision strike and surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to support military objectives in the area.

With more than 200 sorties flown, this deployment showcased the wing’s commitment to providing airpower anytime, anywhere.

“Our mission was twofold, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, which was the eradication of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Griffith, the 34th Bomb Squadron commander. “There was also Operation Freedom Sentinel, which is the eradication of the Taliban and the support of the Afghan government to take on the roles and responsibilities of their government, so they can defend themselves.”

Constant training and exercises, such as Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and operational readiness exercises at the 34th BS home station of Ellsworth AFB, ensured the Airmen’s skills were ready for deployment.

For deployments, there’s a lot that goes in to building a training plan to get all the maintainers and aircrew ready to go, Griffith said.

After all the training and subsequent missions downrange – spending months away from home and working long shifts – the 34th BS Airmen were welcomed back to Ellsworth AFB by a crowd of family and friends.

“Getting off the airplane is one of the most memorable experiences that you’ll ever have,” Griffith said. “Being gone from your family for six months and walking off the plane, seeing them out there to greet you and seeing the joy in their eyes, it’s just one of those feelings you’re never going to forget.”