More than 100 airmen from the Rhode Island National Guard’s 143rd Airlift Wing recently deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The airmen departed from Quonset Air National Guard Base for an unnamed forward operating base on Feb. 26, according to a news release. The personnel taking part in the deployment represent a “cross-section of operational, support and maintenance specialties,” the release states.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel includes two components – counterterrorism operations in several countries and the NATO-led mission to develop Afghanistan’s security forces. According to the Guard, the 143rd Air Wing operates eight C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft.
“The men and women of the 143d are the best at what they do. They are highly trained and bring significant operational experience to the mission," Brigadier Gen. Arthur Floru, director of the Joint Staff for the Rhode Island National Guard, said in a statement. “We look forward to the safe return of our airmen following their successful deployment.”
According to the Guard, the deployment is “part of a larger group of Rhode Island deployments supporting [Operation Freedom’s Sentinel] as more than 300 individual men and women of the 143d will mobilize through the remainder of the year.”
In all, approximately 2,000 soldiers serve in the Rhode Island Army National Guard and approximately 1,000 airmen serve in the Rhode Island Air National Guard.
The Guard announced in November that its annual open house and air show at Quonset would be canceled in 2019 due to the deployments.
“Opening our doors to the public has been an annual highlight for our organization and its members,” Maj. Gen. Christopher Callahan, the Rhode Island National Guard’s adjutant general, said in a statement at the time. “With this anticipated federal mobilization commitment in 2019, we have been presented with a difficult decision regarding our ability to safely and effectively conduct this public event.”