News Article View

Deploying Airmen wait through six day layover

Staff Sgt. James Ward rests at Hangar One while waiting for transportation to a forward-operating location in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Jan. 18 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Sergeant Ward is assigned to the 15th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Amy Velasquez)

Staff Sgt. James Ward rests at Hangar One while waiting for transportation to a forward-operating location in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Jan. 18 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Sergeant Ward is assigned to the 15th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Amy Velasquez)

Aviano Air Base, Italy -- Total Force Airmen deploying to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom had an Italian holiday of sorts this past week at Aviano Air Base.

Active duty and Reserve Airmen coming from places as close as RAF Mildenhall, England, Hickam Air Base, Hawaii, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, made a refueling stop at Aviano that turned out to be a little longer than a "gas and go."
Their six day layover was due to their transportation down range being delayed by weather.

While the deployers were here, they experienced how 31st Fighter Wing membesr take care of other Airmen.

"It's been great. The support we've gotten from Aviano has been fantastic," said Lt. Col. Gary Slack, chief of safety at RAF Mildenhall. "They've been finding us a place to stay, taking us out to a barbeque, helping out a lot and just making sure we're okay."
The troop commander, Col. Douglas McHugh surveyed his troops, stretched out on the hangar floor. He said they're ready to go - go down range and do what they get paid to do.

"People are getting a little restless because they're away from home, and they're anxious to get on with the business they left home to do. There's a building restlessness among the group," said Colonel McHugh.

Although the layover was unexpected, Colonel McHugh said it gave the Airmen a chance to rest and get prepared to serve on the frontlines of the Global War on Terror.