Alaska airmen deploy to the Middle East, carrying pieces of home

For her deployment to the Center East, Alaska Air Nationwide Guard Employees Sgt. Kristen Corridor packed a blanket that her three younger youngsters typically wrap themselves in.

“It smells like house,” she stated early Tuesday in a cavernous constructing on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, surrounded by greater than a dozen airmen from the Air Guard’s 176th Wing, all wearing camouflage uniforms and ready to board the aircraft that might fly them hundreds of miles away.

They will not return to Alaska for about 4 months.

Their mission: Help the battle towards the Islamic State, stated Lt. Col. Matt Harper, commander of the wing’s 210th Rescue Squadron, an elite search-and-rescue unit.

Altogether, about 60 airmen from the 176th Wing will depart JBER this week on a collection of flights headed for the Center East, together with pilots and aircrew with the 210th, in addition to upkeep and help models. They’ll be a part of 20 or so of the wing’s airmen who left the Anchorage army base final week, stated Maj. John Callahan, spokesman for the 176th Wing.

For the subsequent 4 months, the pilots and flight engineers will rescue injured troops from fight zones abroad, he stated. Upkeep and help crews will maintain the helicopters able to fly and run operations on the bottom.

Corridor, who’s 29 and lives in Eagle River, will tally flight hours to ensure the mission stays inside price range.

On Tuesday morning, earlier than dawn, she sat on a picket bench and held her cellphone in a single hand. Whereas she’s away, she stated, that telephone will tether her to house and to her youngsters.

“FaceTime is a large, large factor for us,” she stated. “It is simpler for the youngsters to know that sure, you are still round despite the fact that you are so distant.”

As hours handed, Corridor and others talked in small teams. Some ate doughnuts or drank espresso. Some fell asleep. A couple of fiddled with their cellphones.

Members of the Alaska Air Nationwide Guard 176th Wing nap earlier than their deployment to the Center East on Tuesday. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch…

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