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Air Guard members returning home

March 04, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Martinsburg, W.Va. - Servicemen and women of the 167th Airlift Wing, who kept bases in Kosovo and Bosnia operating by flying in supplies, are scheduled to return home Sunday.

Approximately 80 members of the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing left the Tri-State area in November to support operations in the former Yugoslavia, said Lt. Col. Charles Sencindiver, chief of staff.

The guardsmen were stationed at Ramstein Air Force base in Germany as part of Operation Joint Forge, a NATO peacekeeping mission.

The Airlift Wing was responsible for carrying people, food, clothing and other supplies in Europe, military officials said.

Members of the 167th are expected to arrive at the West Virginia Air National Guard base in Martinsburg at 3 p.m.

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"I'm anxious to talk to them when they get back," Sencindiver said.

The returning guardsmen are aircrew members and maintenance workers, Sencindiver said.

Members of the 167th took at least two planes with them to perform their missions, which included humanitarian efforts and transporting the remains of several slain military personnel killed in Afghanistan and detainees who were taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The 167th Airlift Wing has aided Operation Joint Forge before, but only for two to three weeks at a time. The November deployment was previously scheduled but extended after Sept. 11, Sencindiver said.

He considers the operation a success since all 80 servicemen and women are returning, he said.

The 167th Airlift wing primarily comprises 1,200 members from Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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