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136 AW Citizen Warriors deploy to Afghanistan

Capt. Mark Hanna, 181st Airlift Squadron boards C-130H aircraft at NAS Fort Worth JRB for his passageway to Afghanistan March 16, 2011. More than 140  deployers will be departing from the 136th Airlift Wing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Capt. Mark Hanna, 181st Airlift Squadron boards C-130H aircraft at NAS Fort Worth JRB for his passageway to Afghanistan March 16, 2011. More than 140 deployers will be departing from the 136th Airlift Wing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Tech. Sgt. James Stiles consoles his wife as they say their final good byes prior to boarding the C-130H aircraft from NAS Fort Worth JRB, March 18, 2011. Colleagues, family members and friends gathered for last minute words of support and encouragement as their loved ones boarded the aircraft for the long trip to the desert. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Tech. Sgt. James Stiles consoles his wife as they say their final good byes prior to boarding the C-130H aircraft from NAS Fort Worth JRB, March 18, 2011. Colleagues, family members and friends gathered for last minute words of support and encouragement as their loved ones boarded the aircraft for the long trip to the desert. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Family members and friends of the 136th Airlift Wing wave their final goodbyes to the C-130H above as they pass for their final fly-by before heading off to Afghanistan where they will spend a few months supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The Wing deployed more than 140 personnel to support the operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Family members and friends of the 136th Airlift Wing wave their final goodbyes to the C-130H above as they pass for their final fly-by before heading off to Afghanistan where they will spend a few months supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The Wing deployed more than 140 personnel to support the operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Members of the 136th Airlift Wing and elected official representatives wave good bye to deploying members aboard the wing's C-130H aircraft headed for Afghanistan from NAS Fort Worth JRB, Texas, March 18, 2011. The 136th Airlift Wing, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, has deployed over 1,000 Airmen over the course of 23 Air Expeditionary Force deployments, since 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Members of the 136th Airlift Wing and elected official representatives wave good bye to deploying members aboard the wing's C-130H aircraft headed for Afghanistan from NAS Fort Worth JRB, Texas, March 18, 2011. The 136th Airlift Wing, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, has deployed over 1,000 Airmen over the course of 23 Air Expeditionary Force deployments, since 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Members of the 136th Airlift Wing along with Mr. John Wood, North Texas Regional Director for Senator John Cornyn and Mr. Charles Boswell, representing State Senator Wendy Davis give honor to those deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom aboard the C-130H from the wing. The deployers will be supporting the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in both air and ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Members of the 136th Airlift Wing along with Mr. John Wood, North Texas Regional Director for Senator John Cornyn and Mr. Charles Boswell, representing State Senator Wendy Davis give honor to those deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom aboard the C-130H from the wing. The deployers will be supporting the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in both air and ground operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

NAS FORT WORTH JRB, Texas -- Fighting in the rocky mountains and desert sands of Afghanistan, a timely airdrop of equipment can make all the difference to the American and Coalition fighters on the ground. Providing those vital supplies will be the mission of the approximately 140 members of the 136th Operations and Maintenance Groups who left from here over the past three days. Colleagues, family members and friends gathered for last minute words of support and encouragement as their loved ones boarded the C-130 for the long trip to the desert, March 18, 2011.

For many of the deploying Airmen, this was not their first time to put their civilian lives on hold and answer their nation's call. For some, this deployment represents their tenth, eleventh, and even twelfth time to fly cargo, personnel, and medical evacuees in support of their fellow warriors overseas.

During the final briefings in the early morning hours before departure, representatives from several elected officials were on hand to provide words of encouragement and support for the deploying wing members and their families. Present on behalf of Senator John Cornyn were Mr. John Wood and Mr. Collin McLochlin, representing Senator Hutchison was Mr. Byron Campbell, representing State Senator Royce West's office was Mr. Daniel Clayton and Ms. Tarsha Hardy, representing State Senator Wendy Davis' office was Mr. Charles Boswell, representing State Representative Vicki Truitt's office was Ms. Mitzi Long, and State Representative Kenneth Sheets was in attendance with his District Director, Mrs. Jennifer Lang.

To summarize this most recent deployment, Col. David McMinn, 136th Airlift Wing, commander stated, "It means such a great deal to see such outstanding recognition by our elected officials from the national level and the State of Texas. It is inspirational to the deploying members and their families when they see such high-level interest. The spotlight was definitely on the Airmen of the 136th Airlift Wing this morning. These are critically important deployments and we are all in awe of the continued patriotism and dedication of our civilian leadership and our great Airmen."

The 136th Airlift Wing, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, has deployed over 1,000 Airmen over the course of 23 Air Expeditionary Force deployments, since 2003.