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Buzzard team returns home

Families eagerly await the return of deployed 31st Fighter Wing Airmen at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019.  Through coalition support, the deployed Airmen’s efforts helped re-strengthen the local government in the fight against extremist groups within the Southwest Asia region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Families eagerly await the return of deployed 31st Fighter Wing Airmen at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. Through coalition support, the deployed Airmen’s efforts helped re-strengthen the local government in the fight against extremist groups within the Southwest Asia region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing de-board an aircraft at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. 31st FW Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Airmen assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing de-board an aircraft at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. 31st FW Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 31st Fighter Wing Airman returns home from a deployment and embraces his spouse at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. The Airman and Family Readiness Center provided various support programs for families of deployed members, including monthly family dinners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 31st Fighter Wing Airman returns home from a deployment and embraces his spouse at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. The Airman and Family Readiness Center provided various support programs for families of deployed members, including monthly family dinners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A child awaits the return of her deployed parent at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. 31st Fighter Wing Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A child awaits the return of her deployed parent at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. 31st Fighter Wing Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 31st Fighter Wing Airman returns home from a deployment and hugs his daughters at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. Down range, 31st FW Airmen flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 31st Fighter Wing Airman returns home from a deployment and hugs his daughters at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 9, 2019. Down range, 31st FW Airmen flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 510th Fighter Squadron Airman returns home from a deployment and hugs his son at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. Airmen returning home from deployment must start the re-integration process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 510th Fighter Squadron Airman returns home from a deployment and hugs his son at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. Airmen returning home from deployment must start the re-integration process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Families welcome back Airmen from the 510th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. 510th FS Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Families welcome back Airmen from the 510th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. 510th FS Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Families greet Airmen from the 510th Fighter Squadron arriving at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019.  510th FS Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Families greet Airmen from the 510th Fighter Squadron arriving at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. 510th FS Airmen were deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where they flew 7,500 combat hours and executed more than 1,000 sorties to deter adversaries and execute the National Defense Strategy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Previously deployed 510th Fighter Squadron Airmen are greeted by their families at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The Airman and Family Readiness Center provided various support programs for families of deployed members, including monthly family dinners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Previously deployed 510th Fighter Squadron Airmen are greeted by their families at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The Airman and Family Readiness Center provided various support programs for families of deployed members, including monthly family dinners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A family eagerly awaits an Airman assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron to de-board his F-16 Fighting Falcon at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The 510th FS plays an integral role in national security at Aviano AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)
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A family eagerly awaits an Airman assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron to de-board his F-16 Fighting Falcon at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The 510th FS plays an integral role in national security at Aviano AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

A 510th Fighter Squadron Airman returns home from a deployment and reunites with his wife at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The 510th FS maintains a rapidly deployable stance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)
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A 510th Fighter Squadron Airman returns home from a deployment and reunites with his wife at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 30, 2019. The 510th FS maintains a rapidly deployable stance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --

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.