CHARLESTON, W.Va. —
Two West Virginia National Guard aviation units, Charlie Company, 2nd General Support Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment, (2-104th GASB) and the 130th Airlift Wing, recently departed for and returned from a Middle East deployment.
“We owe absolutely everything we have – our freedom, our way of life; everything – to our brave men and women in the West Virginia National Guard and all those in uniform who have served our great state and nation,” Gov. Justice said. “All West Virginians should be incredibly proud of the sacrifice being made by those who will be traveling overseas to defend our freedom. Cathy and I are praying for their safe return.”
“At the same time, we’re excited beyond belief to welcome home the dozens of courageous guardsmen and women who have spent the past four months abroad,” Gov. Justice continued. “We are appreciative of the sacrifices they and their families have made for all of us here at home.”
The 130th Airlift Wing welcomed home more than 70 Airmen who had served more than four months overseas in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The contingent of 130th Operations, Maintenance and Support personnel flew and maintained C-130H aircraft as part of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, headquartered at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The unit serves as the primary airlift hub and gateway for delivering combat power to joint and coalition forces in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR).
“It is my distinct honor to serve as the wing commander to these Airmen,” said Col. Bryan Preece, 130th Airlift Wing commander. “The dedication to mission execution and commitment to our motto 'Ready to Go' has been on full display despite the challenges of deploying during a global pandemic. I want to thank them and their families for the sacrifices that they've made, and I look forward to having our extended unit family home safe.”
Members of the West Virginia Army National Guard’s 2-104th GASB will soon mobilize for a deployment to the Middle East as a part of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield.
More than 60 service members, including pilots, maintainers, flight medics and support staff, will deploy to support aviation operations within the Middle East AOR. These Soldiers will first travel to Texas to conduct pre-mobilization training.
“The men and women of this organization are truly exceptional at what they do, whether it be preparing for a deployment overseas to support various combatant commands, or responding on the home front to a worldwide pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “As these folks move out the door to proudly serve our Nation, we will be here supporting their families through their deployment for whatever needs may arise. Without our military families, we would not be able to accomplish our various missions.”
The deploying Soldiers are based out of Williamstown, but reside in locations throughout West Virginia and some of the surrounding states. Charlie Company, 2-104th GASB falls under the organizational structure of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division.
The unit is comprised of six UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters, which provide aeromedical evacuation and search and recovery for the citizens of the State of West Virginia during times of domestic response or emergency. During a federal response or mobilization, the unit provides aeromedical evacuation support in a defined area of operations.
In the past year leading up to their deployment, the unit has conducted more than 800 hours of flying, including numerous search and rescue missions for state emergency response.
Operation Inherent Resolve is the military’s operational name for the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL) and Operation Spartan Shield builds partner capacity in the Middle East to promote regional self-reliance and increase security in the region through units across the Department of Defense.
With this deployment, the West Virginia National Guard will exceed 900 members currently serving overseas with an additional 450 on duty for COVID-19 response.