By Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 25, 2018
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Hurst, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, kisses his wife after returning from a deployment, Emily Hurst, on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 18, 2018. Hurst provided agile combat airlift during his deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)
Team Little Rock members (background) await friends and loved ones returning from a deployment during a welcome home event on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 18, 2018. Team Little Rock members were able to see their friends and loved ones taxi in on the aircraft that had returned them from their deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Staton, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion, meets his son, Teddy Staton, for the first time on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 18, 2018. Staff Sgt. Staton provided critical maintenance during his deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)
Tattered, weathered boots appear on the steps of a C-130J aircraft, followed by camouflaged bodies, bags slung over Airmen’s shoulders returning from a deployment. As the Airmen approach their loved ones, children heartily clap their hands while tears drip from spouses’ eyes as they’re reunited with their Airmen after a long separation.
Little Rock Air Force Base welcomed home approximately 70 Airmen from the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 19th Maintenance Squadron, 61st Airlift Squadron, 41st Airlift Squadron, 19th Operations Support Squadron and 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron after a deployment supporting U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa.
“Every deployment is different, which leads to different situations and experiences, but all in all, my favorite part was coming home and hugging my family,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christian Davis, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent.
While deployed, the Airmen supported more than 450 sorties that were pivotal to mission success; this also included antiterrorism missions and supporting the local government.
In addition to routine training at Little Rock AFB, Airmen prepared for austere environments via weapon qualifications and medical clearances to support deployed operations.
After months away, Little Rock Airmen were welcomed back with open arms by family, friends and coworkers, which made wearing those tattered boots well worth the wait of coming home.