SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich.— More than 200 Airmen of the 127th Wing received a warm welcome from the Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and base leadership as they returned home from a combat tour late Wednesday, July 24.
Deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in Afghanistan, Selfridge operators, maintainers, and support staff were responsible for supporting close air support missions, aircraft maintenance, and logistics operations.
“First and foremost we are excited to see everyone back safely,” said Brig. Gen. Rolf Mammen, 127th Wing and Selfridge Air National Guard Base commander. “Now we want to get them in processed as quickly as possible so they can enjoy some well-earned time with their families.”
Airmen from Michigan’s Hometown Air Force executed sustained operations in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Inherent Resolve, and Spartan Shield.
“Being ready for the mission downrange is what we constantly train for,” said Mammen. “We are an operational reserve, and this successful deployment is a testament to our combat capability.”
The lieutenant governor added that, “the men and women of the 127th Wing continue to go above and beyond in their duties, and their service makes our state, country, and world safer. We are truly grateful for their commitment.” said Gilchrist.
Michigan National Guard’s commander-in-chief, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, visited Selfridge earlier in the day, touring both the 107th Fighter Squadron and 171st Air Refueling Squadron to become familiar with the flying missions here.
“Selfridge has been a cornerstone of Michigan communities for more than a century and I’m proud to welcome home these brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country,” Whitmer said. “They’ve been on the front lines every day fighting to ensure our safety and now that they’re home, it’s on us to ensure we treat them with the respect they’ve earned.”
Before the troops’ arrival, family members gathered in a hangar where the Selfridge Base Community Council, Family Readiness Group, and the Red Cross provided refreshments. Lt. Gov. Gilchrist mingled with the families and waited, alongside Wing leadership, for the Airmen to return.
“The men and women of the 127th Wing are heroes, and it is a tremendous honor to welcome them home after a long deployment away from their families,” Gilchrist said. “I want to recognize the families who provide the support for them to be successful.”
As the flight was delayed and the sun set, mosquitos and mayflies swarmed the crowd and parents rocked tired children. “He took a nap in the car for about 20 minutes,” Staff Sgt. Brianna Werr, 127th Wing Headquarters staff, said of her one-year old son Lincoln, after she’d been waiting with him for nearly three hours late into the night. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Brennan Werr had been deployed with the 127th Maintenance Group’s munitions team.
But the energy of the crowd quickly grew with anticipation after the plane landed, the Airmen started exiting the plane, and were reunited with their families. For many, three hours was nothing compared to six-months.
“It’s been a long wait,” Werr said. “But we are so ready.”