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Maryland Guardsmen Earn Kudos in Afghanistan

Members of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing search the A-10C ramp for foreign objects and debris at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The FOD walk ensures that small items are removed from the ramp so they cannot be ingested into the plane's engine and cause damage. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Speicher/Released)

Members of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing search the A-10C ramp for foreign objects and debris at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The FOD walk ensures that small items are removed from the ramp so they cannot be ingested into the plane's engine and cause damage. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Speicher/Released)

An A-10C pilot with the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, discusses a successful mission with the maintenance team responsible for his plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Speicher/Released)

An A-10C pilot with the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, discusses a successful mission with the maintenance team responsible for his plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Speicher/Released)

Staff Sgt. Jason Connolly, a member of the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron life support shop, hangs pilot gear onto new racks as the squadron begins an Air Expeditionary Force rotation at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 104th EFS started flying missions in mid-January in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Speicher/Released)

Staff Sgt. Jason Connolly, a member of the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron life support shop, hangs pilot gear onto new racks as the squadron begins an Air Expeditionary Force rotation at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 104th EFS started flying missions in mid-January in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Speicher/Released)

Tech. Sgt. John Scarcella, 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, conducts a phase inspection on an A10 Thunderbolt II in a hangar here Feb. 24, 2010.  This phase inspection is conducted after every 500 hours of flight.  Sergeant Scarcella is a traditional Guardsman from the 175th Maintenance Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks)

Tech. Sgt. John Scarcella, 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, conducts a phase inspection on an A10 Thunderbolt II in a hangar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Feb. 24, 2010. This phase inspection is conducted after every 500 hours of flight. Sergeant Scarcella is a traditional Guardsman from the 175th Maintenance Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks)

Brigadier General Guy Walsh, a Maryland Air Guardsman from the 175th Airlift Wing in Baltimore, is the commander of the Air Force's newest air expeditionary wing in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Taylor)

Brig. Gen. Guy M. Walsh, commander of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan, was effusive in his praise of the troops deployed from Maryland Air National Guard. General Walsh is a member of the Virginia Air National Guard and a former commander of Maryland's 175th Wing. He is seen here just prior to a combat sortie with the 451st. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Taylor)

BALTIMORE -- Fighter pilots and support personnel of the Maryland Air National Guard's 175th Wing returned home March 20, wrapping up a three-month deployment in Afghanistan. As they settle back into the rhythm of stateside life, they have much of which to be proud.

The Maryland pilots notched nearly 700 combat missions encompassing more than 2,400 flying hours during their recent deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. In fact, other than missions cancelled due to weather, they executed every air tasking order mission they received.

Equally as important - especially to the family and friends who eagerly awaited their return - the unit accomplished all of this without a single combat loss or injury. In fact, there were no reported safety incidents, incidents of civilian casualties or incidents of fratricide at all.

Maryland's accomplishments in the air were matched by those on the ground. Maintenance leaders did "a phenomenal job" working numerous issues not only for the A-10s but also for the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing's other aircraft, according to Brig. Gen. Guy M. Walsh, commander of the 451st AEW.

Lt. Col. Edward Jones, commander of the 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was tapped to serve first as the 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group's deputy commander and later to fill in as the group commander. Chief Master Sgt. Terry Allen was requested by name to lead efforts as the 451st AEW stood up new squadrons at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province. Chief Allen pulled together a team to bed down and deliver critical capabilities to meet surge requirements for Central Helmand.

General Walsh, a member of the Virginia Air National Guard and former commander of the 175th Wing, was effusive in his praise, calling the Maryland Guardsmen "the best trained and led A-10C squadron and the most professional officers and Airmen I have had the privilege of working with over the past 30 years."

In addition to its fighters, the 175th Wing was also tasked to send C-130 aircraft, crews, and ground personnel to Afghanistan. Members of the wing's C-130 component are still deployed, and are currently expected home in May.