Air Support Squadron Comes Home - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/05/03

Air Support Squadron Comes Home

One of many happy reunions at the airport yesterday. One of many happy reunions at the airport yesterday.

Just last week, President Bush announced the major fighting in Iraq is over. Now, more troops are starting to come home. WTOC was there as members of the Air Force's 15th Air Support Operation Squadron were reunited with their families at Savannah-Hilton Head International.

"It's been a long six months," military wife Pat Risner told us.

"I think it's a dream still, I don't want anyone to pinch me," said Jennifer Smelick, whose was deployed.

Fighting with the Third Infantry Division, these were the last troops from the 15th Air Support Operation Squadron of the United States Air Force to come home from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's so great to finally be back," said SSgt. Michael Smelick. "We've been gone for so long. We're just all tired and glad to be around family again and be around people who love us and who were here for us the whole time."

Although they are not part of the Third Infantry Division, this Air Force squadron is based out of Fort Stewart.

"Basically when they need air coverage to blow up the bad guys, that's what they did," explained squadron commander Lt. Col. Byron Risner.

Unlike many troops who where killed in action, this group was lucky.

"The most important thing is we brought everybody back," Lt. Col. Risner said. "Some with a few scrapes, but we lost nobody and we're very thankful for that so it's very successful. I couldn't imagine anything going any better."

Two members of the 15th Air Support Operation Squadron remain in Iraq. They're expected to arrive home later this month.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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