CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Thirty members of the 145th Airlift Wing returned home Wednesday after being deployed to southwest Asia.
There was a welcome home ceremony for the service members at the North Carolina Air National Guard base in west Charlotte.
After having been on the other side of the world for several months, the Guard members couldn’t wait to be reunited with their loved ones.
“Reunited and it feels so good,” Senior Master Sgt. Bubba Jacobs said after hugging his granddaughter and other family members.
It was the same joyous homecoming for Pilot Joe Sepko who saw his wife and three boys in person for the first time in almost five months.
“It’s challenging, but it’s worth it,” said Stacey Sepko, Joe Sepko’s wife. “I’m really proud of him and what he does.”
Lined by the Patriot Guard and surrounded by American flags, more than 30 North Carolina Air National Guard members with the 145th Airlift Wing returned after being deployed as part of Operation Freedom Sentinel.
More than 100 members of the 145th Airlift Wing were activated in February to help move troops and supplies around southwest Asia.
“Pretty long days and it was a really good experience overall,” 1st Lt. John Ebright said of his first deployment.
Ebright and his girlfriend Hannah Hess said the homecoming was overwhelming.
“I’m a little emotional because you get to talk to them every day, but it’s just different having them here and being able to hug them and kiss them,” Hess said.
One more group will be returning Friday at the North Carolina Air National Guard base in Charlotte. Then, all Guard members who were deployed with the 145th Airlift Wing will be home.
It marks the final C-130 deployment for the 145th Airlift Wing as it transitions from the C-130 Hercules to C-17 Globemaster III aircraft progresses. The deployments ranged from 60 to 120 days.
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