After more than a decade of continuous deployments, all members of the 4th Special Operations Squadron and their AC-130U gunships are now back home at Hurlburt Field, Fla., announced base officials. This is the “first time since Sept. 11,” 2001, that the entire squadron is back at Hurlburt, SrA. Joe McFadden, a base spokesman told the Daily Report on Monday. The unit held a dinner on July 13 to celebrate the homecoming, said SrA. Hayden Hyatt, another Hurlburt spokesman. The last deployed team from the squadron returned to Hurlburt on June 28 from supporting operations in Afghanistan, according to a base release. “Getting everybody back together to rebalance our skill sets and get time with families is an awesome and incredible experience,” said Lt. Col. Meghan Ripple, 4th SOS director of operations, in the release. “The opportunity to have five months at home is also an incredible thing to look forward to,” he added. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, posted “a heart-felt ‘well done and welcome home'” to the squadron’s airmen at his Facebook page on July 13. (Includes Hurlburt report by SSgt. Eboni Reams)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.