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28th BW welcomes home Airmen from record-setting deployment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Denise Nevins
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Approximately 350 Airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing returned to Ellsworth AFB from a deployment to Southwest Asia during the early morning hours of Jan. 24.

Hundreds of family members, loved ones, and fellow Airmen gathered on the flightline to eagerly greet them after more than six months of B-1 bomber combat operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"I feel like I might explode," said Krystal Sharwarko. "I've just been looking forward to this, playing it over in my head over and over in my head and I can't believe it's finally here."

For many young Airmen on their first deployments, having well-experienced personnel in the mix contributes to mission success.

"This was my first deployment, and it went very well," said 1st Lt. Courtney, 37th Bomb Squadron weapons system officer. "Having such a huge support system from many Airmen in all different squadrons and careers truly helped make this first deployment a smooth one. Although this deployment was a success, it feels good to finally be home with family and friends."

Even for experienced Airmen, each deployment comes with its own set of unique challenges.

"This is my third deployment," said Staff Sgt. Bryant, 37th BS dedicated crew chief. "It's a good challenge to take these young Airmen under a wing and watch them grow to do great things. We have the best aircrews here and I would like to think we have the best crew chiefs, the best maintainers to put them in the air and provide them with safe, reliable, combat ready aircraft day to day. You feed off each other's energy and it makes six months go by alright."

Bryant added being a part of a record-breaking team during this deployment was a huge honor. Airmen supported Operations Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve, employing more than 4,850 munitions and flying about 490 sorties during their rotation.

"We have the best group of Airmen when it comes to ensuring the safety and readiness of our aircraft," Bryant said. "They do what it takes to get the job done and keep our people in the air. I'm extremely proud of my Airmen."