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Lincoln Airmen Spend Holidays Overseas

Lincoln, Neb. -- Airmen from the 155th Air Refueling wing recently deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom supporting two separate rotations.

The deployments, approximately 39 and 37 days respectively, sent more than 100 Nebraska ANG members to the AOR.

Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, has become the cornerstone of tanker operations in that region of the world and is currently the largest tanker operation in the world. The KC-135s deployed there fly 25-35 sorties per 24 hour period and offload more than of 1 million pounds of fuel per day to Air Combat Command aircraft who are providing close air support to the war fighters on the ground.

Lt. Col. Jeff Briere, 155th ARW Chief of Safety, was deployed there as the director of operations. He returned with nothing but praise for the job the deployed members were doing.

"I have never met a more motivated, proud and capable bunch of folks. I met people that were on their 6th, 7th or 8th tour in country," he said. "Everyone had an extremely positive attitude and was a joy to work with."

Colonel Briere said being busy with the increased Ops Tempo actually helps the time pass quicker, but also outlets like the Services branch and MWR office did their absolute best to provide great meals and lots of entertainment activities ranging from celebrity visits and concerts to sumo contests and karaoke.

"Everyone was counting the days until they get to return to their families, but we still focused on accomplishing the mission," he said.

While deployed, Colonel Briere interacted with all of the aircrew and support personnel from both the reserves and active duty on a daily basis. He met people from Kadena Air Base, Japan; Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England; MacDill Air Force Base, Fl.; McConnell Air Force Base, Ks.; Forbes Air National Guard Base, Ks.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; and Fairchild Air Force Base, Wa. with tour lengths as varied as 30, 60, 90, 120, 365 in length.

"My experience was that the active duty folks there absolutely appreciated every national guard member and reservist that was in theater," Colonel Briere said. "They clearly knew that for every one of us there, it meant one of their folks got to stay home and spend the holidays with their families. Since we were all volunteers, it was nice that our contribution was so appreciated."
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