News: New York Air National Guardsmen return from combat tour in Afghanistan
ALBANY, N.Y. - Members of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing will return home following a successful deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
WHO: Approximately a dozen citizen-airmen and their family members of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing.
WHAT: Welcome home from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
WHEN: 2 p.m., Saturday, March 15, 2014.
WHERE: Albany International Airport, Observation Room, 3rd floor
Interviews with airmen and family members returning from Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing were attached to the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing served a vital role to the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron ensuring mission success.
At Bagram, they covered a wide range of duties at the passenger terminal, in the aerial port yard, at a civilian contract airlift provider, and overseeing hazard materials as part of special handling. Unlike at their home station, the team here was busy around the clock.
Master Sgt. Patrick Fitzgerald, passenger terminal superintendent, noted that Bagram is the busiest airfield in the region, in both cargo and number of passengers handled.
"Between all of the jobs, we're covering all aspects here. It's extremely busy. If you take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, you're going in the ditch", said Fitzgerald.
The passenger terminal was responsible for processing and moving hundreds of passengers every day, traveling to and from every corner of the region.
Besides handling passengers, the team also moved thousands of tons of cargo. The most memorable cargo loads were the ones called for during emergencies, and airdropped as bundles.
For some, this was their first deployment. For others, their last.
Airman 1st Class Stephen Marra was on his first deployment, and happy to be with a familiar group of airmen.
"I'm proud of what we do here, getting people to where they need to be. I couldn't do it without the people around me", he said.
At the other end of the spectrum is Tech. Sgt. Thomas Houck, who has spent time in the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force and will be retiring soon. He said that this was his last deployment.
"I know this will be my last deployment. I want to get the most out of it, and I know I did", he said.