MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Sixty-six Airmen from the 50th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron (EARS) ‘Red Devils’ returned home to MacDill Air Force Base Florida, Dec. 18, 2020, after being deployed for four months to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
The 50th EARS mission was to provide effective air refueling in order to enable the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Transportation Command’s objectives, while furthering agile combat employment and partner nation capabilities.
“Our Airmen exceeded all expectations and rose to the challenge,” said Lt. Col. Menola Guthrie, commander of the 50th EARS. “They truly embraced full spectrum readiness by demonstrating the KC-135’s multi-role capabilities.”
The Airmen were already facing the difficult challenges from being in a deployed environment, while enduring the problems presented from COVID-19.
“While deployed, COVID-19 mitigation drove us to develop new digital and virtual procedures for mission planning, flying and debriefing. It also provided unique challenges for our redeployment requiring us to ensure we maintained a clean corridor,” explained Guthrie.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the morale remained high amongst the Airmen.
“The squadron deployment concept has significantly increased our camaraderie and unit cohesion,” added Guthrie. “By working through the unique challenges of COVID-19 and the deployment presented, we’ve all come together as a highly-effective team.”
The 66 Airmen arrived just in time for the start of the holiday season and are looking forward to spending time with their friends and family after a long and challenging deployment.
“I feel happy and relieved,” said TSgt. Joshua Foreman, a boom operator for the 50th EARS. “I’m excited to be back especially during the holidays, and to just spend time with my family.”
Although the Airmen from the 50th EARS performed their duty at Al Udeid honorably, the mission has not ended. The 350th ARS will be continuing the work that remains in region.