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185th ARW Members Return from Manas Deployment

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Wendy S. Ohl
  • 185ARW PA
After over six weeks at Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, members of the 185th Air Refueling Wing are glad to be home. With about 100 members coming home over the course of two days, there were a lot of happy family members anxiously waiting. After a short wait while the plane was secured and luggage off-loaded, members exited the plane. Then finally, after going through customs and in-processing, they were reunited with their families or released to head home to them.

"It feels absolutely outstanding to be home," said returning member Capt. Will Poulson with a huge grin. His daughter, Hannah, resting comfortably in his arms, looked at him wide-eyed. "I don't know if she remembers her dad or not, but we'll have to go home and work on that." Hannah is only 16-months old, but takes well to the extra attention she is getting.

"We had a couple of long weekends with sicknesses and stuff so it feels good to have him back home to have an extra helping hand." said Allison Poulson, Capt. Poulson's wife. "It brought tears to my eyes. It's just so joyful to see him come home; it's been a long six and a half weeks."

While at Manas they fueled various aircraft in support of the war on terror. It was a busy deployment and in one day the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Wing, to which they were assigned, passed off 804,800 pounds of fuel to 32 receivers, breaking a squadron record. The fuel supported 16 "show of force" missions as coalition forces provided air cover in the skies over Afghanistan.

The commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Col. Brian Miller, recognizes how hard it is when his Airmen go to war. "I realize that great sacrifices are made by the families, and I appreciate their efforts," he stated.

For many Airmen it was their first time being deployed. For them it meant putting what they'd been training to do into practical application. For 1st Lt. Pete Goeken, a part-time pilot with the 185th since March 2005, this was his first deployment.

"All my training prepared me for this mission. There really no real surprises, it was pretty much what they prepared me for, what I expected." Goeken stated. "There was a higher ops tempo than in Sioux City, but that was also expected."

It was also an opportunity for him to get to know people he normally doesn't get to see very often. "It was an opportunity to build camaraderie in the air crew and get to know everyone better. Being a part-timer, you don't get to know these guys very well," he stated. "The crew chiefs and maintenance all did a great job with the planes, and things went very smoothly."