August 29, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - An Indiana Air National Guard Fighter Wing based in Terre Haute is headed overseas for the third time. More than 350 members of the 181st Fighter Wing will be stationed somewhere in the region of Iraq, Afghanistan and the western Pacific for up to four months.
USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0259 from the 113th FS is operated from Incirlik AB on December 22nd, 2002 during operation Northern Watch just prior to the start of operation Iraqi Freedom. [USAF photo by SSgt. Jason Gamble]
It is the third time in the past four years that the unit has been sent overseas, and the deployment increases the total of Guard members called to active duty from Indiana to 10,000 since Sept. 11, 2001.
The 181st will send a squadron of F-16 fighter jets to the western Pacific to support the Air Expeditionary Force.
The outfit sent fighter planes to Turkey
from 2001 to 2002 to patrol the northern Iraq
no-fly zone and returned to that area just before the Iraq war began in 2003. Some of the fighter wing's members will have been part of all three deployments.
Although the 181st Fighter Wing has been tasked to deploy thousands of members to dozens of locations in the past 5 years this will now be the first time the 181st has gone to the western Pacific for duty.
The deployment involves nearly 1/3 of the 181st's personnel. It pushes the total number of Indiana National Guardsmen deployed since September 11, 2001 to more than 10,000.
Along with the F-16s, the 181st also sends support aircraft like the C-17 jet transport planes.