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D.C. Air National Guard returns from Pacific Command Theater …

Two-hundred-and-forty-eight members of the District of Columbia Air National Guard returned to Joint Base Andrews from an approximately four month deployment at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in support of the Pacific Command Theater mission Feb. 8 and 10. Responsible for 24/7 air defense of the National Capital Region, members of the D.C. Air National Guard deployed an aviation package which included F-16 Fighting Falcons, air crews, aircraft maintainers, support staff, medical, supply and communications specialists to complete the mission. The D.C. Air National Guard s presence was a deterrent against threats to both regional security and stability, according to Lt. Col. Michael Croker.

We integrated with the 36th Wing s bomber unit and day in and day out we trained, said Croker, mission commander and commander of the 121st Fighter Squadron, a unit within the D.C. Air National Guard. We had to be fully ready so that within 24 hours we could go up to the Peninsula for example, to execute any operation that higher headquarters deemed necessary the takeaway was how the National Guard can best integrate into active duty components and be the most effective fighting force that we can be.

We took our aerial capabilities, and we moved it out into the middle of the Pacific, and we showed the rest of the world that we can fight anywhere in the world, at any time and deter our adversaries from making moves that might otherwise lead to an international conflict, added Master Sgt. Robert King, D.C. Air National Guard member and first sergeant. He served as an adviser to the mission commander and was responsible for the health, morale, discipline and welfare of enlisted members. The people in my unit were definitely stretched but this deployment will help all of us better do our jobs here at home.

It was the first deployment for people like Senior Airman Rashila Petteway, a D.C. Air National Guard crew chief.

It s hard work, Petteway said. I had to be mentally and physically prepared daily. It wasn t easy, but I returned more skilled.

Sentiments were echoed by others who served in response to the deployment s operations tempo, which they said made them more proficient.

My team was responsible for ensuring the F-16s could fly, which took a lot of hard work and a willingness to get dirty, said Tech. Sgt. William Wroble, D.C. Air National Guard aircraft engine mechanic. The deployment provided excellent hands-on experience and troubleshooting opportunities for the lower ranking Airmen especially. But the camaraderie kept all of us going.

Without a doubt our men and women did a great job in Guam, but it s time to focus on our mission here in the National Capital Region, added King, who returned to Joint Base Andrews and was greeted by his wife and now three kids.

I missed the birth of my son who was born on Veterans Day so I m excited about getting reintegrated in a lot of ways, he said.

Pentagram Staff Writer Arthur Mondale can be reached at

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