The 124th Fighter Wing of the Idaho Air National Guard is joining the American-led forces in the Middle East against ISIS. The main body of the force departed late Tuesday night.
Hundreds are expected to be deployed in the coming months making it the biggest deployment Gowen Field has seen since 2008.
Bus load after bus load of airmen arrived on scene and walked single file toward a waiting Boeing 777. Families and loved ones cheered them on waving American flags and holding signs. Greeted by Governor Otter and Idaho National Guard leaders they boarded the plane and waved goodbye to their families.
They are pilots, medical personal, support staff and more. They’ve all answered the call to serve.
“Most of these folks have civilian jobs. They’re employers, they’re employees, they’re doctors, they’re police officers, they’re firefighters. So, it has a huge impact not only on the military, but in the community as a whole,” said Major Christopher Borders of the Idaho National Guard.
It’s the 124th Fighter Wing’s first major deployment in support of the U.S. led Operation Inherent Resolve. An operation that among other things includes air strikes against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.
The 200 who left last night are just the beginning. The Idaho Air National Guard says over the next several months a total of 500 Idaho Air National Guard personnel will be deployed.
“We haven’t seen a deployment like this since 2008 when the 124th went over to Afghanistan. These folks are motivated, they’re ready and focused,” Maj. Borders said.
Officials tell 6 On Your Side the average deployment lasts 180 days.