by Staff Sgt. Danielle Wolf
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/28/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Approximately 130 Citizen Airmen from the 442nd Maintenance and Operations groups here deployed to Afghanistan today in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The units maintain and operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which provides close air support to ground troops and is most notable for its 30-millimeter gatling gun.
"The purpose of A-10 combat power is to keep others safe," said Col. Eric S. Overturf, 442nd FW commander to the deploying Airmen at their final out brief. "Because you're going over there to employ this aircraft and its munitions, you are ensuring that a soldier, sailor, Airman or Marine can return home safely to his family."
Members from throughout the community, to include the Whiteman Base Community Council and local retirees had to opportunity, Dec. 28, to wish the reservists well on their deployment. The Whiteman BCC made hundreds of cookies that each reservist got to take with him to make the flight more comfortable.
"The support from the local community is outstanding," Overturf said. "They not only support our Airmen, but they support the families the Airmen have to leave behind, which makes it much easier for them to accomplish the mission in theater."
Despite the 3 a.m. takeoff, the reservists had dozens of people sending them off.
The wing has a rich history in deployments - four deployments since 9/11 - where it has sent a package of maintainers, operators and aircraft to the area of responsibility.
Hundreds of reservists from other parts of the wing have also deployed in previous years, but most recently the 442nd Security Forces Squadron, and currently, the 442nd Civil Engineers Squadron.
The reservists are scheduled to return in the spring.