Rescue Citizen Airmen redeploy to Portland
By Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 03, 2017
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- After a roughly four-and-a-half month deployment, 89 Citizen Airmen with the 304th Rescue Squadron were welcomed home by family, friends and co-workers Oct. 7-16 in Portland, Oregon.
The Airmen, who deployed to Iraq and an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, returned home in waves by commercial and military airlift.
“This deployment was twice as large as our normal taskings, so the impact on family members back home was substantial,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Peterson, 304th RQS commander. “That made our homecoming, which was delayed about one week, that much sweeter for everyone. Many were brought to tears as they hugged their loved ones on the tarmac after months of separation, and it was a poignant reminder of what’s truly important in our Airmen’s lives.”
Peterson noted that this was the largest deployment for the unit in its 59-year history.
“This has been an incredibly challenging, yet rewarding year preparing for such a large-scale deployment,” he said. “It took months of effort across the entire squadron to set our deployers up for successful combat search and rescue operations overseas.”
During their time downrange, the 304th RQS rescue Airmen participated in multiple joint training exercises and conducted three medical evacuations of U.S. Air Force personnel who were injured on base. The unit was replaced by members of another 920th Rescue Wing subordinate unit, the 306th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
“Now that we handed the mission over to our sister squadron and returned to Portland, we are focused on reintegration with family and friends as well as reconstitution of equipment,” Peterson said. “Everyone deserves a little break after focusing so intently on our combat mission overseas; an opportunity to reconnect with family members and re-prioritize efforts as we move forward, preparing for our next challenge.”
The commander praised all those involved in getting the Citizen Airmen downrange and back home safely.
“We’d like to thank all those who made this large deployment a success; everyone from 920th Rescue Wing to 943d Rescue Group to our 304th Rescue Squadron members, our honorary commander and our key spouse Mrs. Kristi Herron, who maintained a strong and optimistic network throughout the deployment spin-up, execution and redeployment,” he said. “It was a gargantuan effort and we are a stronger team now than we ever have been thanks to everyone’s cooperation and support.”