Families welcome Air National Guardsmen home from Africa - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Families welcome Air National Guardsmen home from Africa

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MADISON (WKOW) –Lily Reimann has no idea where her father has been for the last two months.

"She kept thinking he was at Wal-Mart," her mother Whitney Reimann said.

When really, he has been in Africa as a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing.

Lily's father Michael and more than 180 airmen returned Monday. The homecoming had the usual cast of characters: friends, family, and Gov. Scott Walker, who thanked the airmen for their service. However, there was something unique about the event.

"The Wisconsin Air National Guard usually deploys in small groups. The fact that we have approximately 185 airmen returning at one time from one deployment is pretty significant. So we can throw one heck of a nice, big party," said Capt. Joy Staab, deputy director of public affairs for the Wisconsin National Guard.

The airmen, led by Lt. Col. Brian Parker, supported National Guard members from Colorado and Vermont in Djibouti, which is across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen and a focal point in the United States' anti-terrorism operations. There, the 115th flew more than 25 sorties with French fighters, and conducted more than 275 sorties in support of coalition combat and training objectives.  

"It was a great deployment with a lot of great people, and I'm honored to have been able to go. I'm ready to sign up for the next one but that probably won't be for a while," Wisconsin Air National Guardsman Corey Peterson said.

Though the 115th completed more than 550 accident- and incident-free flight hours, this didn't make the parents of these soldiers any less worried.

"His day to day job as a crew chief is dangerous. Being out of the county in a potentially dangerous part of the world. So as a parent, I'm much relieved that he's home," said Jean Montgomery, who has two sons in the 115th.

Relief was precisely what the National Guard hoped to give the airmen's loved ones.

"I know how important it is to as that family member to get that closure and have that understanding that yes, my service member is finally home and he's here to stay. And to be able to wrap your arms around him or her and show that support," said Staab, who knows what it's like to be on both sides of a homecoming, as her husband is also in the military.

The 115th Fight Wing has also deployed personnel and aircraft in 2006, 2008 and 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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MADISON (WKOW) – More than 180 members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing will be welcomed home on Monday in a special ceremony.

The unit deployed to Africa last January and worked with National Guard members from Colorado and Vermont in support of a counter terrorism mission.

Military officials say the 115th Fighter Wing completed more than 275 missions and over 550 hours of flight in support of coalition combat and training.

Governor Scott Walker and senior guard officials will welcome the 115th Fighter Wing home with family and friends at a private ceremony at Truax Field in Madison.

The 115th Fighter Wing has deployed personnel and aircraft in 2006, 2008 and 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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