MADISON, Wis. – Family and friends gathered together in a sendoff ceremony held at Truax Field on August 3 to bid farewell to Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing deploying on a four month rotation to Kunsan Air Base, Korea. The Airmen are deploying in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Package intended to demonstrate a commitment to stability and security in the region.
Maj. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, spoke to the group of approximately 270 Airmen preparing to deploy, thanking the families for their support and addressing concerns of family and friends in attendance.
“I promise you that we have done everything in our power to prepare them for this mission, and they are exceptional at what they do,” said Dunbar. “There is nobody finer in this world at flying, maintaining and securing F-16’s.
“I assure you that we have done everything to prepare them for this mission and I assure you that they are ready,” he added.
“Freedom is defended each and every day by the men and women who proudly wear the uniform,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “Thank you for stepping forward to be part of this deployment. Thank you on behalf of the people of Wisconsin who appreciate your sacrifice, and the sacrifices of your friends and family.”
Walker continued to praise the professionalism of the men and women of the 115th.
“We are here today to proudly deploy you because you are the best of the best,” he said. “Not just the very best of those here at the 115th, not just the best of the Wisconsin [Air National Guard], not just the best of the Air National Guard. You are the best of the best.”
During the ceremony, Walker reflected on the flag patch he still carries today from an earlier Wisconsin deployment, as he presented the Wisconsin State Flag to Lt. Col. Bart T. Van Roo, 176th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander and the TSP deployment commander. The state flag signifies the family and friends and all those thinking of them while they are gone, hoping for their safe return, stated Walker.
The Wisconsin National Guard continues to play an active role in global security operations as the nation’s primary combat reserve. Approximately 110 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia in May, while approximately 150 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation deployed to Kuwait last spring and another 35 Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation deployed to Afghanistan. More than 9,000 Soldiers and Airmen stand ready to assist with state emergencies as Wisconsin’s first military responders.