Maryland Guardsmen Earn Kudos in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Capt. Wayde Minami
  • 175th Wing Public Affairs
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.