First Group of Airmen from Hill’s 34th squadron come home from the Middle East

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, OGDEN – (ABC4 News) The first wave of active duty airmen from the 388th and reserve airmen from the 419th Fighter wings have returned home after six months in the Middle East.

The deployment started last November, and was the first F-35 Immediate Response Force deployment as well as the second F-35A Lightning II combat deployment. Hill’s Airmen supported the United States, Air Force Central Command Mission in the region.

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“During the deployment, the squadron performed close air support, offensive and defensive counter air, and maritime escort which enabled regional deterrence” said 34th Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt Col. Aaron Cavazos.

One of the interesting points in the deployment the squadron operated from two different bases for more than 3 months, helping in multi-national exercises, and building better partnerships with regional allies.

“We’re extremely proud of the mission these Airmen carried out during their deployment. It’s what we train for here every day,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “We have a lot of happy families here today. It’s great to have them home and we look forward to the rest of our Airmen returning.”

Some of the Airmen from the 34th are still there, helping to support the efforts.

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Now the Airmen coming home didn’t get to celebrate yet, they are quarantined for the next 14 days as a precaution against spreading coronavirus. Most will be home their families, but Hill Air Force Base is providing temporary lodging on base for those who have family members at higher-risk.

“It’s always great to see our people come home from deployment after a job well done. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all the family members who held things together here at home during this difficult time for our nation. I also want to thank the civilian employers of our reservists who’ve also made many sacrifices so their employees can serve our country. We simply can’t do what we do without the unwavering support of our families and the community.” – Col. Brian Silkey, acting commander of the 419th Fighter Wing

The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing version of the multi-role Joint Strike Fighter. It combines stealth capability with the latest weapons technology.

Hill AFB’s 388th and 419th are the first combat-capable F-35A squadrons. They arrived at Hill in October of 2015. The 388th and 419th are part of the Total Force Partnership which works with the strengths of both active duty and reserve components.

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