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Historic homecoming for 317th AG

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For the first time in nearly a decade, the entire 317th Airlift Group fleet is back at their home station, as Airmen and aircrew continue to make their way back to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

In true homecoming fashion, scores of family members and friends lined the flightline waiting eagerly for their loved ones to de-board each arriving aircraft after a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia.

"It's amazing and kind of overwhelming to see all the families out here," said 1st Lt. Zacharee Arendsee, 40th Airlift Squadron, as he held his two sons Sam and Teddy for the first time in three months. "I'm just looking forward to spending time with my boys who have grown up so much since I've been gone. I just can't wait to get home."

Since Dec. 20, 2003, the 317th AG and its historic C-130 fleet have been continuously deployed in support of overseas combat operations, living up to their motto of providing "dominant air power and combat support to combatant and joint force commanders ... anytime, anywhere!"

The 317th AG is one of the most heavily-tasked units in the Air Force and one of the several remaining active-duty C-130 units. The group's mission is to save lives and sustain our nation's operations by training, mobilizing, employing C-130J combat aircraft worldwide, and providing all phases of combat delivery, including air-land, airdrop and air medical evacuation.

Additionally, the 317th AG has been a part of many key humanitarian missions, including the relief efforts for the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, and flood relief efforts in Pakistan following the epic flooding in 2010.

"This is a great day for us," said Col. Walter H. Ward, 317th AG commander. "Seeing these American flags waving and smiles on these families' faces is a sight that never gets old. It feels great to have everybody home for the first time in a very long time; we needed it to reset ourselves."

While this historic homecoming allows the 317th AG to recover from its decade long ops-tempo, the downtime will only last until September when the 39th Airlift Squadron is slated to deploy to Southwest Asia.

Currently, the 19th Airlift Wing from Little Rock AFB, Ark., is deployed to augment the 317th AG's deployment rotation.