Volk Field Airmen thanked for service since Sept. 11, 2001

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Jon LaDue
  • Wisconsin National Guard

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 150 Airmen from Volk Field's Combat Readiness Training Center and 128th Air Control Squadron have deployed to the Middle East in support of the war on terror. Friends, family and Wisconsin National Guard leaders paid tribute to those Airmen during the Hometown Heroes Celebration May 1.

"These Airmen have made and continue to make sacrifices on behalf of their state and country," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "Time away from their families and jobs, the stressful conditions of their deployments and the continuing demands of their outstanding service are all reasons they deserve recognition."

Dunbar was among senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders on hand for the ceremony. According to Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Arness, who has served five deployments in his 20 years with the 128th ACS, the ceremony is important for all unit members - but especially the young Airmen and their families.

"Most of the people associated with the 128th are really dedicated and supportive, and we're like a big family," Arness said. "I think it's important, now, for them to know the public and everyone else is on their side."

The operations tempo for the air control unit has remained steady over the last 15 years. Since 1995, the unit has supported U.S. operations in Bosnia, South America, Hungary and Romania, the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The squadron deployed to Illinois to safeguard the air space around Chicago following the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Every member that was recognized, including retired unit members, had deployed at some point since Sept. 2001. The unit typically deploys about one half of its unit at a time but some Airmen also deploy to other units as needed.

"I get a great sense of pride in being with the 128th," said Staff Sgt. Kirk Slama, security forces specialist with the 128th. "We are very prepared to [deploy] on a moment's notice and I think our unit has done a great job at that."

Each of the Airmen who were recognized received a plaque of support and thanks - signed by the Chief of National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig McKinley - as their names were read aloud.