News: Wisconsin Air Guard unit returns from 6-month Middle East deployment
Story by Vaughn Larson
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - It may have taken a couple of days longer than expected, but the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Control Squadron were welcomed back home by family, friends, senior Wisconsin National Guard officials and the governor of Wisconsin late Friday night, May 24.
“We are so proud,” said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, who kept his comments short as the travel-weary airmen still had three hours of out-processing standing between them and home.
Gov. Scott Walker reminded the nearly 100 airmen of his words from their sendoff ceremony last November.
“Freedom: Endowed by our Creator, defined in our constitution, defended every day by the men and women who wear the uniform,” Walker said. “Those words are as true today as they were then. Thank you on behalf of a grateful state.”
Lt. Col. Gerard Iverson, 128th ACS commander, returned the state flag Walker presented to the unit at its sendoff.
“We weren’t able to fly it on a flagpole, per se, but we were able to fly it,” Iverson said, explaining that the flag had been aboard nine different types of aircraft flying in the airspace the 128th helped control.
The 128th ACS supported the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron's mission of providing air surveillance, threat warning, and theater command, control and communications in support of the combined defense of the Persian Gulf and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Col. David Romuald shared an email in which the727th commander praised the 128th ACS.
“They have done an outstanding job from day one, and they show no sign of letting up until their departure,” the email stated. “It’s been an absolute honor working with such a great squadron. You can tell their success, professionalism, team approach are due to (Lt. Col. Iverson) and his entire team. They have made a huge difference in this AOR.”
Among the 128th’s accomplishments was revising the squadron’s standard operating procedure. Iverson noted that the area had changed since their last deployment in 2009.
“We stayed focused, and we remained engaged every day, 24 hours a day,” he said. “It was truly a team effort.”
Iverson applauded the families for their support during the six-month deployment, noting that the families have grown by six newborns since their departure. The most recent, Charlotte Grace Deloughary of Fond du Lac, Wis., was born one week before the 128th ACS returned to Volk Field.
“We were hoping dad would make the delivery,” said Jennifer Deloughary, noting that having her husband, Master Sgt. Shane Deloughary, on the phone during the delivery was “weird.”
“He was trying to talk to me, calm me down,” she said. “It was definitely different than having him there.”
Capt. John McKenna was on the other end of the spectrum — his son Ian was born one week after the unit deployed.
“I was constantly praying, ‘Maybe it will happen — maybe he’ll get to meet him before he leaves,’” Lindsey Remm told a television reporter.
Maj. Chris Divyak of Tomah, Wis., met his son Cale, born one month and two days prior to the 128th ACS’ return.
At the end of the ceremony, destination markers for Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were added to a pole already adorned with several markers identifying where the unit has served.
“It has truly been a tremendous journey,” Iverson observed.