The 165th Airlift Wing welcomed home 40 Airmen today, after a two-and-half-month deployment to the Middle East. WTOC was there for their reunion with family and friends. Many of these Guardsmen have been through this process several times in the past two years.
Maj. Chris Sodemann posed with his family, a family which has now welcomed him home five times over the past two years. "We've been activated for two years and when we left the first time, [my son] was three months old and he turns two next month," he told us.
Many are in the same situation: several trips in the course of a year, something that has become more of the norm.
"There are about 20 C-130 units in the Guard and just about every unit has been involved with this," said Col. Steve Westgate. "I would say this is typical of what's happening."
But it wasn't always typical for the 165th. "Up until a year and a half ago, this unit hadn't been activated since the Korean War, so we would go on deployments, but generally just as volunteers."
And even though many of these men and women have been away more than they have been home, this may not be their last trip. "I'm sure some of them will go back, unfortunately," said Col. Steve Westgate.
Another group of Airmen left for the Middle East last week. They were replacing the group that returned today.