May 23, 2017 (by Paul Zadach) - As a precise formation of four C-130 aircraft flew overhead, hundreds of family members, friends and fellow Airmen cheered May 18 to welcome back members of the 934th Airlift Wing from their deployment to Southwest Asia.
USAF C-130H #92-3288 from 96 AS taxis in after returning from a four month deployment on May 18, 2017. [USAF photo by Paul Zadach]
More than 150 Airmen including pilots, co-pilots, navigators, crew chiefs, load masters, mechanics, operators, fuel specialists and other maintenance personnel returned to their loved ones after spending four months away from home. In all, the four C-130 aircraft and Airmen from the wing were responsible for transporting people and equipment throughout the area of responsibility.
"It is truly wonderful to have our Airmen back home, and we all can appreciate the tremendous job they did over there," said Col. Tony Polashek, 934th Airlift Wing commander. "This was a particularly impressive rotation, due to the robust implementation of Real Time in the Cockpit technology for the first time, as well as some new and unique mission challenges due to changes in the overall situation in the region. Our deployers also had some outstanding performances in their mission after a serious in flight emergency was handled very professionally and expertly by the crew, and which required some extensive repair efforts by our maintainers over there after the damaged aircraft was successfully recovered."
"It is always extremely rewarding to have our team members back home in the Viking fold following another very successful deployment," said Col. Tim Wollmuth, 934th Airlift Wing vice commander.
"As is typical, the 934th Operations and Maintenance Groups performed exceptionally well, executing more than 97% of all taskings in spite of two aircraft needing significant field repairs due to circumstances beyond their control."
Polashek explained some of the leadership accomplishments of the deployment. "Lt. Col. Casey Dodds, 934th Operations Group deputy commander, and our leadership team had some solid successes in building partnerships and extended teams with other organizations at the deployed location and in communicating well with senior leaders when they were visited by Maj. Gen. John Stokes, 22nd Air Force commander, and Lt. Gen. Maryanne, Commander of the Air Force Reserve, at the deployed location," he said. "It was a truly great job by a first rate team overall." General Stokes also made the trip to Minneapolis to personally welcome back the Global Vikings.
1st Lt. Dan Tate, 96th Airlift Squadron C-130 pilot, was more than ready to help celebrate his daughter's first birthday when he arrived home. "It's fantastic," he said. All the family is here, we've only been able to talk during the deployment and I haven't been able to see any faces since I've been away. So just seeing everybody is a beautiful thing."
Master Sgt. Rachel Snook, 96th Airlift Squadron Aviation Resource Manager, who was returning from her fifth deployment, said, "It's a great feeling being back. Leading up to this reception, you can't even describe it, to be completely honest."
"The deployers continuously demonstrated the rewards reaped through the synergy of a strong operations and maintenance relationship," said Wollmuth. "We are very proud of our Airmen and their performance, and they should all be very proud of a job well done!"