Second Round of 188th Airmen Return Home

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Approximately 45 airmen and 10 pilots with the 188th Fighter Wing made it home to Fort Smith Wednesday after a deployment to Afghanistan.

"It feels great," Brian Burger, the Operations Group Commander with the 188th said after landing. "It was a long trip, believe me. Halfway around the world. So a couple of ten hours sorties to get us back here. Five legs total. Took us over a week. So it's good to be back."

Burger, and nine other pilots landed their A10s Wednesday afternoon.

"We had a great run, a great deployment," Cmdr. Burger said. "We didn't have any mistakes. No errors." 

Justin Lewis was one of the last pilots back on the ground. He said he couldn't wait to get out of the plane and see his family.

"He told us he was very last, and so it was easy to pick him out," Lewis' wife, Sarah, said. "So we just kept scooting down so that he could see us when he taxied in."

As soon as Justin Lewis' plane landed, his three children ran to greet him.

"We've been in the military for over 13 years and so we're kind of used to it," Sarah Lewis said. "But at the same time its very, very exciting to have Daddy home."

The deployment was part of an Air Expeditionary Forces rotation, which the 188th shared with the 175th wing based out of Baltimore.

Most of the airmen returning home were gone for three months. Some were overseas for closer to 6 months.

All together, 375 airmen were deployed in Afghanistan for this rotation.

Approximately 300 of the airmen that had deployed arrived home last week.

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