HomeNewsArticle Display

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy to Persian Gulf for airlift mission

Maj. Jared Hawkins, a C-130 Hercules navigator in the 123rd Airlift Wing, poses for a selfie with his son and wife, Jaime and Lairkin Hawkins, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. Hawkins is deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which more than 110 members of the Kentucky Air Guard will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Maj. Jared Hawkins, a C-130 Hercules navigator in the 123rd Airlift Wing, poses for a selfie with his son and wife, Jaime and Lairkin Hawkins, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. Hawkins is deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which more than 110 members of the Kentucky Air Guard will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron push a C-130 Hercules aircraft from a hangar at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The aircraft, which subsequently departed for the Persian Gulf along with 37 deploying Kentucky Air Guardsmen, was being housed in the hangar because of severe weather conditions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron push a C-130 Hercules aircraft from a hangar at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The aircraft, which subsequently departed for the Persian Gulf along with 37 deploying Kentucky Air Guardsmen, was being housed in the hangar because of severe weather conditions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Tech. Sgt. Lee Stanley, an aircraft structural engineer in the 123rd Airlift Wing, spends some quiet time with his daughter, Madelyn, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. Stanley is deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which more than 110 members of the Kentucky Air Guard will conduct an airlift mission to fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Tech. Sgt. Lee Stanley, an aircraft structural engineer in the 123rd Airlift Wing, spends some quiet time with his daughter, Madelyn, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. Stanley is deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which more than 110 members of the Kentucky Air Guard will conduct an airlift mission to fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing board a bus that will take them to their C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The Airmen are heading to the Persian Gulf for a four-month deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing board a bus that will take them to their C-130 Hercules aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The Airmen are heading to the Persian Gulf for a four-month deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

More than 35 members of the 123rd Airlift Wing board a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015, for a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The Airmen will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

More than 35 members of the 123rd Airlift Wing board a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015, for a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The Airmen will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt. Carl Shaffer, a C-130 crew chief in the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, works to disconnect a tow bar from a C-130 Hercules aircraft on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The aircraft, which subsequently departed for the Persian Gulf along with 37 deploying Kentucky Air Guardsmen, was being housed in a hangar because of severe weather conditions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Master Sgt. Carl Shaffer, a C-130 crew chief in the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, works to disconnect a tow bar from a C-130 Hercules aircraft on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015. The aircraft, which subsequently departed for the Persian Gulf along with 37 deploying Kentucky Air Guardsmen, was being housed in a hangar because of severe weather conditions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

More than 35 members of the 123rd Airlift Wing depart the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015, aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft for a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The Airmen will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

More than 35 members of the 123rd Airlift Wing depart the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 21, 2015, aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft for a four-month deployment to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The Airmen will fly troops and cargo across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The first 37 of more than 110 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed here today for deployment to an undisclosed air base in the Persian Gulf region.

The Airmen left aboard a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules for a four-month mission supporting coalition military operations in the United States Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa and Afghanistan.

The Airmen, who include aircrew members, aircraft maintenance personnel and support staff, will fly troops and cargo as needed across the region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, said Lt. Col. Matt Quenichet, a Kentucky Air Guard navigator and mission commander.

Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing, thanked the deploying Airmen for their commitment to the mission.

"I know that you're leaving here today ready to perform this mission because of the unsurpassed level of professionalism and excellence you display every day," Gorter told the Airmen. "I'm proud of you, and I'm humbled to be you wing commander."

He also praised family members and community partners for their continued support over the next four months.

"Our Airmen are leaving family and friends behind while they deploy overseas for this important mission, and many are taking leave from full-time civilian jobs," Gorter noted. "Those family members and civilian employers will have to take on extra responsibilities while their citizen-Airmen are deployed, and we deeply appreciate that.

"Our Airmen simply could not perform this mission without the full support of their families, employers and coworkers, all of whom are our full partners in the defense of America."

A second group of Kentucky Airmen is scheduled to depart from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base next week aboard a 123rd Airlift Wing C-130, while a third rotation will deploy in late April. The mission is expected to be complete in early July.

The deployment marks the sixth time in the past 12 years that the Kentucky Air Guard has sent its aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel to support U.S. military operations in the U.S. Central Command AOR. The wing deployed aviation assets there in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012, operating from multiple undisclosed locations and Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

The wing's non-aviation personnel also have been heavily engaged around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, logging thousands of deployments to dozens of overseas locations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

In October, more than 70 of the wing's Airmen deployed to Africa to support Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history.