Twenty-three Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard returned home from Iraq early this morning,
concluding a two-month deployment during which they managed an airfield crucial to coalition military operations.
Kentucky's 123rd Contingency Response Group deployed a total of 66 Airmen to Iraq on Jan. 4 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the campaign to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Those troops have been redeploying tothe United States in small groupsover the past two weeks. The Mar. 14 group,
which landed in Louisville around 1 a.m., is the final cadre of Kentucky Air Guardsmen to return home.
While overseas, the Airmen were responsible for operating a vital logistics hub that was recaptured from ISIS forces last year and has since played a key role in supplying the campaign against the militant group. The Airmen were responsible for loading and off-loading cargo from coalition aircraft, maintaining airfield security and communications, and providing aircraft maintenance.
"Once again, the Airmen of the Kentucky Air National Guard have deployed to
other side of the world to perform a mission vital to our nation's security
interests," said Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd CRG's parent
unit, the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing. "As always, our Airmen
executed the task in a flawless manner, moving many, many tons of supplies
and equipment necessary to support the fight against ISIS while operating
from an austere location. I could not be more proud of their performance."
The 123rd Contingency Response Group is the only unit of its kind in the Air
National Guard and just one of five CRGs in the entire U.S. Air Force. CRGs
are comprised of Airmen from dozens of specialties who can deploy on short
notice to establish and operate air fields from austere locations anywhere
in the world. The units bring everything necessary to stand up operations in
a matter of hours, including communications, power generation,
cargo-handling equipment, security forces and air traffic control
The Kentucky unit has been globally engaged in a variety of missions since
being established eight years ago. In 2014, the group deployed to Senegal to
establish and operate an Aerial Port of Debarkation and Intermediate Staging
Base in support of Operation United Assistance, the international effort to
fight the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The unit's Airmen processed 193
aircraft and 1,200 short tons of cargo, including blood, plasma and tactical
vehicles during the two-month deployment. Four years earlier, the group was
one of two Air Force contingency response units to establish overseas
airlift hubs supporting earthquake-recovery efforts in Haiti, managing the
delivery of hundreds of tons of relief supplies into the Dominican Republic
for subsequent trucking to Haiti.
Story provided by: Kentucky National Guard