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Kentucky Air Guard completes deployment to Persian Gulf region

Capt. Jason Ketterer, a navigator for the 165th Airlift Squadron, is greeted by his family at the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. More than 90 Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

Capt. Jason Ketterer, a navigator for the 165th Airlift Squadron, is greeted by his family at the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. More than 90 Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

A C-130 Hercules from the 123rd Airlift Wing flies over the Kentucky Air National Guard base as more than 90 Airmen from the unit return home to Louisville, Ky., Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

A C-130 Hercules from the 123rd Airlift Wing flies over the Kentucky Air National Guard base as more than 90 Airmen from the unit return home to Louisville, Ky., Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

Two Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing embrace during a homecoming where more than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard returned to their home base in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

Two Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing embrace during a homecoming where more than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard returned to their home base in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

Capt. Jason Ketterer, a navigator for the 165th Airlift Squadron, is greeted by his family at the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. More than 90 Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

Capt. Jason Ketterer, a navigator for the 165th Airlift Squadron, is greeted by his family at the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. More than 90 Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing return to their home base in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020, after completing a four-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. The Airmen, who arrived aboard Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated from an undisclosed air base while flying troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Phil Speck)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- More than 90 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing returned home Wednesday after completing a deployment to the Persian Gulf region, where the unit has been supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel since June.

The group was the final rotation of Kentucky Air Guardsmen to return from a mission that saw them fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, according to Lt. Col. Penn Brown, director of operations.

The unit completed 4,948 combat sorties aboard its C-130 Hercules aircraft during the deployment, delivering 15,000 passengers and 10,158 tons of supplies and equipment to locations across the theater.

Brown said the unit’s Airmen also observed several milestones, including the first-ever airdrop of several dozen high-illumination flares.

“We worked with CENTCOM to develop the tactics and procedures to ensure a safe aerial delivery that met the U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander’s desired effects,” Brown said.

“Additionally, we seamlessly integrated the C130J weapon system from another Reserve Component unit into the same squadron as our KYANG C130H weapon system. This is the first time both weapon systems have been integrated into a single squadron in the AOR, and it was incredibly successful.”

Integrating both aircraft created extra challenges for maintenance Airmen because of the complexity of managing two different airframes, but readiness rates remained extraordinarily high.

“Our maintenance Airmen’s efforts achieved incredible results, cancelling only four of the 800 missions tasked to the deployed unit,” Brown said.

While deployed, the unit achieved a 99 percent mission effectiveness rate, even while rotating new crews and staff members from other Reserve Component units into and out of the AOR every month.

In addition to CENTCOM operational sorties, the unit executed humanitarian relief missions to Lebanon following the massive warehouse explosion in Beirut in August.

“One of the unique aspects of this deployed squadron was that it was completely manned by the Reserve Component,” Brown said. “Our ability to take what has traditionally been our Reserve forces and seamlessly integrate into a deployed operational flying squadron showcases what makes the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve forces great: citizen Airmen from units all across the country, who volunteer to leave their civilian life and deploy for a rotation, and their experience allowed us to operate at such a high level under combat conditions.

“Our experienced Airmen are a true force multiplier for the total force.”

Col. Dave Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, echoed Brown’s praise.

“I’m very proud of this group of Airmen,” he said. “They successfully completed challenging missions in a tough environment, particularly during this global COVID pandemic. Their professionalism, capability, and honorable service under these circumstances is another example of the 123rd Airlift Wing’s long history of service and excellence — and they could not have done it without the support and sacrifices of their families and civilian employers, for whom we are all so thankful.

“Well done, and welcome home.”