Mission In Manas: Last Fairchild Flight Crews Come Home - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mission In Manas: Last Fairchild Flight Crews Come Home

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The last three military jets from Fairchild Air Force Base returned home from Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, signaling a significant step in the drawdown of operations in the Middle Eastern country. The last three military jets from Fairchild Air Force Base returned home from Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, signaling a significant step in the drawdown of operations in the Middle Eastern country.
Fairchild AFB, Wash. -

The last three military jets from Fairchild Air Force Base returned home from Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, signaling a significant step in the drawdown of operations in the Middle Eastern country.

Under a deal reached between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan in 2009, the contract for U.S. military refueling operations was not renewed and the last Fairchild refueling missing from the country was finished Monday. Moving forward, Fueling Freedom will continue out of other bases in southwest Asia, along with operations in Romania. Fairchild has had a significant presence at the base in Manas since 2005 in the War on Terror.

But politics and conflict aside, the arrival of the three flight crews Tuesday was above all an emotional and highly-anticipated reunion for dozens of families who were finally able to wrap their arms around their loved ones after months of overseas deployment.

Staci Huff was among them. She and her 4-year-old son, Noah, eagerly awaited their husband and father, SSgt. Curtis Huff, who had been stationed in Manas for five months. Holding a "Welcome Home Daddy" sign, they watched him walk off one of the planes.

"I was hoping I wasn't going to cry but I can't help it, we're happy to have him home," Staci told KHQ's Kelsey Watts. "His last deployment was only four months, this was a little longer, and a little more excruciating for whatever reason. They don't get any easier."

"I'm excited to see my boy and my wife," Curtis added. "I've been overseas longer than I've been at Fairchild so now we can enjoy it for a little bit."

Nearly 100 Fairchild family members returned home Tuesday. Still, some maintenance and medical personnel from Fairchild remain in Manas, and will return home via commercial flights when refueling operations completely end in Kyrgyzstan in mid-summer.

"Fairchild has been on the front lines supporting the Manas Air Force Base since 2005 and today as the three jets come home, that chapter comes to a close," Col. Brian Newberry, the Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing said. "Whenever a soldier, sailor, airman or marine called for help, that help was overhead in minutes and that's something we haven't been able to do in a long time and we've done it on the backs of those tankers."

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