South Burlington, Vt. - Local 22/Local 44 was first to break the news, and now, the orders are in. Hundreds of Air Guard members will soon deploy for a mission overseas.
Preparations are underway for several hundred Airmen and support equipment to make the journey to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Leader of the Vermont National Guard, Major General Steven Cray, says this calling is, "A testament to the professionalism and dedication of Vermont's airmen."
"Once again, the reputation of the guard and your military competence, is obviously a major reason why you are being called up for this," according to Vermont U.S. Congressman Peter Welch.
Alongside the Congressman and Governor-Elect Phil Scott, Major General Cray announced that the Green Mountain Boys had been called into action.
"The Department of Defense has asked the Vermont Air National Guard to fill an open requirement by US Central Command to bring the fight to our adversaries in their Area of Responsibility," said Cray.
Cray says several hundred men and women are headed to support US Central Command, the group oversees missions in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and Southern Asia.
When asked about specifics, including locations or number of airmen, the general said, "It would not be prudent to talk about any more specifics other than that's the area of responsibility."
The "short-notice deployment" orders came down from the Department of Defense, which look at capabilities and readiness when choosing support assets.
"They have to be willing to serve when called and they don't have a choice about that, they have the responsibility to do their duty," added Congressman Welch.
"We're very proud of what the guard has done for us as a state, and we want to recognize that we're here for their families while they're away," said Governor-Elect Scott.
When orders became official, Wing Commanders said a call went out to the Air Guard for volunteers. Colonel Patrick Guinee says those positions were filled in hours.
"People are busy preparing themselves and their families and getting their records in order to deploy. We're getting the equipment identified and packed up, and we're doing final checks on aircraft to make sure it's ready to depart the local area," said Guinee.
The deployment is expected to last several months. The group will consist of pilots, maintenance crews, along with intelligence and communication personnel.
"We are incredibly proud of each and every one of our airmen and what they do. To raise their right hand, to swear to defend and protect the Constitution and our national security needs is an honor," said General Cray.
"We're Vermonters, and we step-up when there's a time of need and I'm very proud of that," added Scott.
The Vermont Air National Guard consists of 1,100 men and women.
The 158th Fighter Wing's last deployment came in the summer of 2015. It was a 3 month mission to the "Pacific Area of Responsibility".
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