TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Members of the 552nd Air Control Wing returned to Tinker following a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherrent Resolve, Nov. 17.
The returning service members included about 150 personnel from the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron and 90 maintainers from the 552nd Maintenance Group.
Col. Bradley Bird, vice commander, 552nd Air Control Wing was on the tarmac waiting to greet the Airmen. As he met the group, he voiced his appreciation by saying, “Thank you for all that you and your families have sacrificed in order to protect our way of life. You are truly warriors and we are proud to welcome you home.”
Lt. Col. Wayne Frost, commander, 963rd AACS, was also on site to welcome home his squadron.
“It is a very happy day for the world famous ‘Blue Knights’ as a majority of our deployed personnel came home safely from their operations,” Frost said. “I can’t thank Team Tinker enough for their support to transition them so quickly to friends and family. I am extremely proud of this group of Airmen, their dedication, professionalism and their commitment to the mission; they definitely met and exceeded the combatant commander’s requirement to provide global air dominance.”
Maj. Christian Backhaus, commander, 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, also addressed the Airmen as they returned. “I am so proud of our men and women and the job they did while deployed. Their hard work and dedication to the mission ensured our crews had safe and reliable combat aircraft. Our maintenance personnel are out there day and night getting the job done to guarantee our ability to project air dominance. We are excited to have them back home just in time for the holidays,” said Maj. Backhaus.
An enthusiastic group of family members, friends and coworkers were on hand to welcome the warriors home. One of those waiting was Anna, wife of Master Sgt. Geof from the 963rd AACS. Anna and their daughter, JordAnne, were holding balloons that had “Sweet 16” printed on them to represent Master Sergeant Goef’s 16th deployment. When asked if all the deployments were alike, Anna said that “Every single homecoming is different and the only thing that doesn’t change is the butterflies I get in my stomach waiting for him to return. I feel like a teenager.”
Each time Master Sergeant Goef returns, the family has balloons and his favorite foods waiting on him. “He is serving our country, so he deserves to be treated specially,” Anna said. Master Sergeant Geof explained it was great to be home and he looks forward to his parents coming to visit for the holidays.
After the welcome ceremony, the service members were released to spend time with loved ones. They will participate in the re-integration process and then be afforded some much deserved rest and recovery time before returning to normal duty.