PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There were hugs, kisses, tears and joy as members of the 171st Air Refueling Wing returned home from a mission to aid NATO forces in Libya.
It wasn’t a very long deployment, but any time a loved one is away in a combat zone, it’s extremely stressful for families back home.
Twelve members of the 171st Air Refueling Wing arrived in Pittsburgh today anxious to see their families after completing a successful tour of duty overseas. Their mission was to refuel United States and coalition jets patrolling the “No Fly” Zone over Libya.
“Maybe they’re not the quarterback, but they’re certainly the linemen or the blockers – if you use a football analogy,” said Gen. John Murphy, of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. “They’re out there, part of a team effort. The Air Force doesn’t operate as a single ship – we operate as a team, and we can’t do the mission without the gas to do the mission.”
Not long after their plane touched down, husbands were reunited with wives and children.
“Just glad to be home; missed a daughter, missed a wife, a son,” said Rick Creese, of the 171st Air Refueling Wing.
“He’s my relief; it’s hard when he’s not home,” said Creese’s wife, Jill.
Most of the members of Pennsylvania Air National Guard who returned home were separated from their families for nearly two months.
“It’s pretty high-tempo, so we were busy. You don’t really notice until things slow down,” said Rick Costolo, of the 171st Air Refueling Wing. “Then, it’s time to go home.”
While they were gone, U.S. Navy SEALs ended a 10-year search for the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
“It’s a bit of pride for our entire country, I believe. We finally got the person that masterminded the deaths of nearly 3,000 American citizens and civilians and individuals and children and parents,” said Gen. Murphy.
At least 30 members of the 171st Air Refueling Wing are still away on duty. No one is scheduled for any new deployment anytime soon, but as things go with the military that can always change.