Families greet airmen returning from war zone

By The Associated Press

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — On Monday afternoon at Key Field in Meridian, home of the Air National Guard’s 186th Air Refueling Wing, wives, sons and daughters waited patiently for loved ones to come home after spending two months deployed in Afghanistan.

Kelli Watson said she and her four children prayed every day for her husband, Col. Britt Watson. “We would say a prayer for him every day. I’m glad he’s home because he is my backbone. I missed him,” she said.

The Meridian Star reports (http://bit.ly/IWO1aM) Watson was one of a group of Mississippi Air National Guard airmen who returned on Monday. Others remain in Afghanistan and will return home in June, said wing commander Col. Franklin Chalk.

“We are glad to have them back home safe but there is no better training than in a war zone,” said Chalk, who could not say where exactly the airmen and their C-27 Spartan tactical airlift aircraft were stationed.

This was the first deployment for Lt. David Jeter.

“As good as it is to be home, I’m glad I went over there,” said Jeter. “There are a lot of guys who have been there longer but I’ve never had a deployment like this.”

Jeter said he was assigned to help coordinate mission plans.

The crews augmented units from Ohio and Maryland, two other Air National Guard units that fly the C-27. The aircraft is a scaled-down version of the C-130 Hercules.

“In Afghanistan they performed their tactical airlift missions in outstanding ways,” said Chalk. “We will have to wait to see what the future holds for us in terms of aircraft and flying missions here at Key Field.”

For four families, the important thing is their loved ones are home safe.