Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bulldogs and MXG return from Osan

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Lt. Col. Clarence Johnson, 354th Fighter Squadron commander, navigates an A-10 into a sunshade after returning here from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea Sept. 19. Members of the 354th FS, as well as squadron assets and members of the 355th Maintenance Group, recently returned from a 6-month deployment in Osan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy D. Moore)

by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/20/2011 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Airmen from the 354th Fighter Squadron and the 355th Maintenance Group returned here from a deployment Sept. 19.

Pilots, maintainers and other personnel were deployed to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea for a six-month tour.

Six A-10s piloted by members of the 354th FS taxied onto the D-M flightline around 3 p.m.

"I'm just so excited for him to come home," said Nicole Yoakley, whose husband Capt. William Yoakley, 354th FS, was one of the returning pilots. "I'm especially excited for him to see Claire, our daughter, because she's grown so much since he's been gone."

As the pilots pulled into separate sunshades, the families were told which jet contained their loved-one.

"She's gotten so big, and she talks so well now," said Captain Yoakley of Claire Yoakley after he'd greeted his family.

Personnel and equipment from the 354th FS and 355th MXG arrived in a C-17 at approximately 6:45 p.m. and were bused to the hangar where their families waited.

"He's been gone for seven months," said Rhonda Zielinski of her husband Chief Master Sgt. Michael Zielinski, 354th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

Also in the welcoming party was Chief Zielinski's grandson, Isaiah, who was born while he was deployed.

"This is the first time he's going to see Isaiah in person, so we can't wait for him to get off that bus," Mrs. Zielinski said.

Returnees piled off the bus and were warmly welcomed by family members, co-workers and commanders.

"The only pictures I've ever seen were from when he was first born," Chief Zielinski said. "He's grown so much already."

Before the families were released for the night, Col. Mark Murphy, 355th Maintenance Group commander, had a few words for the returnees.

"I just wanted to personally thank you all for your service to this great country," Colonel Murphy said. "Welcome home."

Lt. Col. Terry Koester, 355th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, had a message for the spouses.

"Thank you to the spouses and families who came out for this homecoming," Colonel Koester said. "While your Airmen have been away working hard and fighting the good fight, you all have been here taking care of the home front."

The pilots, personnel and equipment from D-M were deployed to Osan to help with the defense of the Republic of Korea and to maintain stability in Northeast Asia.

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Capt. William Yoakley, 354th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot, greets his family as he returns here from a deployment Sept. 19. Captain Yoakley just was on a six-month deployment at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy D. Moore) Hi-res


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