12/18/11 — Airmen coming home for holiday

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Airmen coming home for holiday

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 18, 2011 1:50 AM

Hundreds of local families were prepared to face Christmas morning know-ing that someone would be missing.

Children had been consoled.

Husbands and wives had accepted the fact that they would be single parents during one of the most hectic weeks of the year.

They had no idea that the Air Force had a surprise in store for them -- that a storybook ending to what was supposed to be a six-month tour was unfolding during meetings of top military officials.

And then ... it happened.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base officials confirmed late Saturday evening that more than 100 of their roughly 1,000 deployed airmen -- including several F-15E Strike Eagle crews -- are on their way back to Goldsboro.

And while it remains unclear just when their res-pective aircraft will touch down, they will, indeed, be home for Christmas.

Close to 1,000 4th Fighter Wing airmen have been in Afghanistan since this fall -- from aircraft maintainers and F-15E pilots and weapon systems officers to support personnel and members of the Security Forces community.

The majority of them shared a mission: providing 24/7 Strike Eagle cover for soldiers fighting on the ground.

Details regarding who will be among those coming home early have yet to be released, and likely won't be until the airmen step onto U.S. soil.

But one thing, base officials said, is clear: Wayne County residents need only look skyward over the next few days to see, with their own eyes, the final descent of those making their way back to their families via F-15E.

For complete coverage of the homecomings, follow the News-Argus in print and at www.NewsArgus.com.