FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Members of the 122nd Fighter Wing’s Security Forces Squadron returned home Friday following a six-month deployment overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They arrived home on two different planes at the Fort Wayne airport.
Photo gallery | Welcome home airmen
Although they were deployed for six months, the group was also gone for two months of pre-deployment training.
The airport was full of family and friends on Friday who cheered when the airmen walked in.
“It’s nice to see so many people,” Tech. Sgt. Mike Hatton said. “We weren’t expecting so many people.”
Hatton’s happy to be back home with his wife and three children.
“You don’t realize how much they grow up when you’re here, but when you leave them for six months, even when you do Skype and stuff, it’s crazy how much bigger they get,” he said.
This was Hatton’s third deployment. Hatton’s eleven-year-old daughter, Kassidie, said it’s tough to have her dad gone.
“We go through some hard times at first, but then it gets better,” she said. “[Today] my heart was beating like, ‘Is this really happening?’ The six months went really quick. It was amazing to see him.”
Commander of Security Forces Major Chuck Goad said Fort Wayne’s support for the base is really appreciated.
“I’ve traveled a lot and I can tell you Fort Wayne is very patriotic. It’s big for morale, big for recruiting and big for retention,” Goad said.
The squadron provided critical air base defense operations as well as specializsed “fly away” security details protecting sensitive air cargo while based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
“Aircraft that fly into hostile areas take security forces with them to protect that aircraft while it’s on the ground in a hostile area and when they get back up and fly away,” Goad said.
This was the 13th deployment for this squadron since 9-11.