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Utah airmen depart for Iraq

September 8, 2005 (by Anonymous) - The first wave of what will ultimately be more than 200 Utah-based Air Force Reservists in Iraq departed Utah on Tuesday morning.

Additional airmen from the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base will deploy in October and December. Pilots and F-16 aircraft assigned to the 419th will fly close-air support and combat air patrol missions in the region. Support personnel also will deploy. Each group will be deployed about 45 days.

The 419th Fighter Wing is comprised of approximately 1,500 personnel and 15 F-16s. Most of the wing's personnel are Reservists who routinely cover contingency deployments while also supporting daily flying operations stateside.

Elements of the 419th Fighter Wing deployed in October 2001 to the Middle East as part of a regularly scheduled aerospace expeditionary force rotation to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. While there, the reservists also began flying combat missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan.