Members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard deploy in support of Southwest Asia operations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kasey Phipps
  • 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
About 30 Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Wing said their goodbye's to family, friends and fellow Airmen, Oct. 19, 2016, at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City before leaving for a 6-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

These Airmen are among the nearly 140 Airmen from WRANGB who are deploying or have deployed recently to nine different locations in Southwest Asia.

"It's the first [deployment] that we're going to as a special operations wing as we support our standard air expeditionary force rotation for the U.S. Air Forces Central Command in the many different roles we have," said Maj. Neil Chaves, Operations Officer from the 137th Special Operations Civil Engineering Squadron.

Just as this deployment is the first deployment for the wing as part of the Air Force Special Operations Command, the deployment is also the first for some 137th Airmen.

"I'm excited, but it is my first deployment," said Senior Airman Adrian Norton, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician from the 137 CES, who by leaving Oklahoma, also leaves behind a two-week-old baby boy.

"It's tough," said Norton. "I mean, he's only two weeks old so he doesn't really understand, but it's hard leaving him."

Though never fully prepared to leave their lives stateside behind, Airmen received extensive training in the months prior to departure.

"Honestly, it seems like you're never fully ready to go," said Chaves. "But once you go out there, you hit the ground running, the mission gets done, and your family is taken care of."

Maj. Gen. Robbie L. Asher, the adjutant general of Oklahoma, recognized the sacrifices of every Oklahoman Guardsmen and thanked the men and women for their continued service.

"I'm proud of each and every one of you and proud of what you do," said Asher to the Airmen. "On behalf of the governor of Oklahoma, everyone who wears this uniform and all the citizens of Oklahoma, God bless you, be safe, and thank you for your service."

As the sun sunk low into the horizon and the Airmen loaded the buses, a new period of time for both the Airmen and their families began.

"You've all been anxiously waiting for this day, to say goodbye, and now the day is here," said Col. Rick Mutchler, 137th Special Operations Mission Support Group commander, to the Airmen and their loved ones. "So let's move forward and start looking forward to your return."