Lieutenant governor welcomes returning Kentucky Air Guardsmen

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. James W. Killen
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
 Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen visited with more than 70 members of the 123rd Contingency Response Group here Dec. 6 to welcome them home from a deployment to Africa, where they supported Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight Ebola.

"I am here to personally thank you on behalf of Gov. (Steve) Beshear," Luallen told the Airmen. "We are proud to know our people from Kentucky were part of such an important mission."

The Airmen, most of whom deployed overseas Oct. 2 and returned to Kentucky in late November, established an air cargo hub in Senegal that funneled more than 750 tons of humanitarian supplies and equipment into West Africa, where the worst Ebola outbreak in history has claimed more than 6,300 lives.

Luallen told the Airmen that she and the governor have tremendous respect for the men and women of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

"We know what a great job you do and are truly grateful for your service," she said.

Kentucky's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, echoed Luallen's sentiments.

"You guys were absolutely the focus of the nation and the world," Tonini told the Airmen. "Having you at the tip of the spear is something we should all be proud of."

The Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group is the only unit of its kind in the Air National Guard. Conceived as an "airbase in a box," the group acts as an early responder in the event of contingencies worldwide. Its personnel are capable of deploying into remote airfields, providing command and control of aircraft, and establishing airfield operations so troops and cargo can flow into affected areas.

After meeting the CRG Airmen, Luallen visited the Kentucky Air Guard's Maintenance Hangar to eat lunch with Airmen and their families.