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sm180429-Z-ZZ999-1001Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul Phelps, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joe Zewiske, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billy Dart and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Arthur Hebblewhite of the Wisconsin Army National Guard with their Hawaii Army National Guard counterparts in Afghanistan. The Wisconsin National Guard aviators have returned to the United States from their mission transporting critical personnel in a C-26 airplane throughout the Afghanistan theater of operations and the surrounding region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Submitted photo

Four Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators returned safely to U.S. soil this week after a five-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based Detachment 5, Company A, 641st Aviation Battalion returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 5, where they will complete demobilization requirements before returning to Wisconsin.

The unit provided day and night all-weather military C-26 airlift missions, transporting critical personnel throughout Afghanistan and the surrounding theater in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel. The unit combined with three Soldiers from the Hawaii National Guard to form a seven-Soldier unit in Afghanistan.

sm180309-Z-ON199-0097Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, presents the state flag to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Arthur Hebblewhite, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billy Dart and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joe Zewiske during a sendoff ceremony for Detachment 5, 641st Aviation, Operational Support Airlift, March 9 in Madison, Wis. The three pilots joined members of the Hawaii National Guard at Fort Bliss, Texas before deploying to Afghanistan. Their mission was to transport critical personnel in a C-26 airplane throughout the Afghanistan theater of operations and the surrounding region in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Katie Eggers

The Wisconsin National Guard remains heavily engaged fulfilling its mission as a key component of the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. More than 350 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery deployed to the Middle East earlier this summer, and more than 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team deployed to the Middle East in March. Meanwhile a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to provide public affairs support there, and Soldiers from the 248th Aviation Support Battalion deployed to the Middle East in September. Approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January, and 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November. 

Also in November, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea, and more than 100 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field returned from Southwest Asia. Approximately 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee are in the midst of deployments worldwide, and other Airmen from the 128th deployed earlier in the fall as well.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin National Guard has been busy fulfilling its other mission as the state’s first military responder in times of emergency. Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are currently assisting the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on the nation’s southwest borderin Arizona. Last fall, the Wisconsin National Guard deployed Soldiers and Airmen to Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, and Soldiers responded on multiple occasions to flooding last summer in Monroe County and Burlington, Wisconsin.




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