Taxiing under an archway of water, an AC-130U Spooky gunship of the 4th Special Operations Squadron returned to the United States, landing to a water-cannon salute and honor cordon at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. “It is indescribable the feelings our crew had as we taxied up to the amazing reception,” said Capt. Justin Harvey, 4th SOS pilot on the aircraft’s return flight from Iraq. As the aircraft taxied in, airport workers who could spare a moment paused “to render a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our brave men and women in uniform,” said LaGuardia manager Thomas Bosco. Touched by the gesture, “I could hardly taxi the aircraft [since] my hands were shaking,” said Harvey. Deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003, the gunship arrived stateside on Dec. 27. It was one of the last 1st Special Operations Wing aircraft to return to its home station in Florida. (New York report by TSgt. Stacia Zachary)
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.