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Buzzard team returns home

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Families welcomed back 31st Fighter Wing Airmen from a six-month deployment to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30 – May 9.

Down range, the Airmen from the 510th Fighter Squadron flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy.

“From maintainers, to the combat support, to the pilots in the cockpit, they really embraced the supporting role that we flew for the Enduring Freedom and Resolute Support missions,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Benjamin Freeborn, 510th Fighter Squadron commander. “I think that the contribution that we made down there made a real difference for the groups we were supporting.”

Through coalition support, their efforts helped re-strengthen the local government in the fight against extremist groups within the region.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the whole Buzzard team,” said Freeborn. “Between [operations] and maintenance, the kind of support we put together down there, was a real honor to be a part of.”

Their success down range was cultivated by months of preparation. Before they left, it was a 31st FW priority to get the deploying Airmen medically and combat ready.

While the service members were away, the Airman and Family Readiness Center provided various support programs for families of deployed members, including monthly family dinners.

The mission of the Airmen returning doesn’t end once they’re home. The fighter squadrons at Aviano play an integral role in national security. They help deter adversaries in Europe, Africa and show force presentation as required.

“Once we start flying operations again, we’ll do some reconstitution and that’s where we will take the focus from the very specific focus that we had while we were deployed and broaden it back out to basically the full capability of the F-16,” said Freeborn.

The Buzzard team embodies the 31st FW’s priority of winning the current fight and maintains a rapidly deployable stance.

For the Airmen, a job well done sits in their rear view mirror while the process of reintegration begins.