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389th FS returns from extended deployment

  • Published
  • By A1C Akeem K. Campbell
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A crowd of family and friends, some holding welcome home signs, wait for their loved ones to return from deployment in the parking lot of Hanger 201. On the other end of Hanger 201, is a crowd of Airmen, ranging from Airman Basic to Colonel, waiting on the flightline to welcome home the 389th Fighter Squadron.

The 389th FS supported OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE while deployed. They returned home over the last week after completing an extended deployment due to COVID-19, where they were met with the sounds of celebration and the echoes of fellow Airmen saying welcome back.

“It’s exciting to be back home,” said Lt. Col. Roderick James, 389th FS commander. “Our Airmen had been gone for about eight months. It was a little longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic but overall everyone is in great spirits and very happy to be back with their families.”

The pandemic has produced challenges for the return of the 389th FS Capt. Pal Cunada, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer. Together with the aid of 1st Lt. Steven MarcAurele, 389th FS section commander, and other fellow officers, they came up with new ways to reintegrate the 389th FS while following public health guidelines.

“It completely threw a wrench in our plans,” said Cunada. “We kind of had to go back to the drawing board.” The officers had to change building locations and start implementing the DOD guidance in the reintegration process.

“We had to add in a lot of the COVID-19 guidance from DOD on what public health needed to do to determine that people were not sick and not showing symptoms of the COVID-19,” said Cunada. “DOD guidance recently added that public health needed to do actual temperature checks so they had little scanners on their forehead and ears.”

According to Cunada, building 1333 was where the 389th FS were supposed to land but because the building didn’t provide enough space for the Airmen to maintain social distancing, they changed the location to Hanger 201.

“The entire process was a great feat of innovative thought and processing,” said MarcAurele. “We did right by our Airmen by getting them back in a safe and orderly fashion while still adhering to our COVID-19 policies. It created a little bit extra work but it was all worth it.”

Despite the unexpected challenges, the 389th FS has safely returned to the base. And as they reunite with their friends and love ones, they can rest knowing that they can spend time with their loved ones.

“It’s crazy and a little different with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading,” said Senior Airman Brandon Taylor, 389th FS aerospace ground equipment journeyman. "But it feels great to see the love and appreciation.”