y Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/12/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- More
than 300 pilots and aircrew from the 354th Fighter Squadron and 355th
Maintenance Group here returned this week after a six-month deployment
to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan, the aircraft flew over 10,000 combat hours in
order to complete their mission of providing close-air support for
troops on the ground.
Although the Airmen had a mission overseas, their families had a mission
here; to run their households and families without physical help and
support from their spouses.
"It's been hard for Evan to adjust," said Laurelle Candland, wife of
deployed Airman Staff Sgt. Jacob Candland. "The first time his father
left, Evan was only nine-months-old. With him being 3-years-old, it
affects him more."
Although families were split by thousands of miles, they still had some communication ability.
"This isn't our first deployment," said Lt. Col. Daniel Walls, a pilot
who returned home yesterday with the 354th FS. "Over time, support has
gotten easier with the internet and Skype, but it just isn't the same as
Every family was glad to have their loved ones home safe.
"This week has been an amazing success as we welcomed home many of our
Airmen who've been overseas in harm's way for the past six months," said
Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander. "Our operations and
maintenance professionals did a phenomenal job generating and executing
more than 10,000 combat flying hours, meeting ground commanders'
intent, and saving lives over and over again. I cannot be more thankful
for their success and safe return."