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Wisconsin Air Guard unit deploying for Inherent Resolve

  • Published
  • By Vaughn R. Larson,
  • Department of Military Affairs

VOLK FIELD, Wis. – Gov. Tony Evers and senior Wisconsin Air National Guard officials joined families and friends at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center March 29 for a formal sendoff ceremony for the 128th Air Control Squadron.

Approximately 90 members of the squadron will deploy for six months in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and the Combined Defense of the Arabian Peninsula. They will provide air surveillance, aircraft tracking and overall command and control of coalition tactical aircraft operations. 

The deploying Airmen will form into separate detachments serving throughout Southwest Asia and the Middle East, attached to the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron — call sign “Kingpin” — with a contingent of operations section personnel stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.

“As a key part of Kingpin, you will be decentralized into several detachments,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Meredith Conn, the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s senior enlisted leader. “This will be challenging, but we are confident in your abilities to be agile and adaptable to deploy anytime, anywhere for any mission.

“You haven’t just worked for months to be ready. You’ve been preparing for this since you joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard,” Conn said. “Your leadership knows you are prepared for this day.”

Lt. Col. James Behn, 128th Air Control Squadron commander, agreed.

“Around me, you will find some of the best trained, most professional and dedicated men and women the nation has to offer,” Behn said during the ceremony. “Today our nation has called upon us again, and we will deliver.”

This will mark the unit’s seventh deployment since Sept. 11, 2001. It will be the third deployment for Maj. Dan Barr, cyber operations and maintenance director, since he joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 2009. 

“We’re going to do a mission that’s really been in action for 20 years,” Barr said. “Now, it’s just an evolution of the last 20 years.”

This will be the fourth deployment for Capt. Emmett Yule, the deputy director of cyber operations and maintenance for the 128th Air Control Squadron. It will be his third as a Wisconsin Air National Guard member.

“I’m excited for the crew I’m deploying with, and I think it should be a good experience,” Yule said. “I’m looking forward to the next six months.”

“We will miss your expertise during Northern Lightning and the many ways you are engaged here at Team Volk and our community,” said Col. Matthew Eakins, Volk Field commander. “But we know this deployment is why you serve our great nation.”

Eakins said that in his three months in command at Volk Field, he has been impressed with the professionalism and commitment members of the 128th Air Control Squadron have displayed.

Lt. Col. Cyndi Bergman will serve as the deployed operations director for the Airmen. Because the unit will disperse across the region, there will be no traditional unit commander for the deployment.

Brig. Gen. David May, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Air, reminded the deploying Airmen that their unit has experienced a number of changes over the years.

“Your first post-9/11 deployment was in a field in northern Illinois, and today you deploy with great agility in a distributed manner never seen before,” May said. “Technology continues to leap forward and is the main reason you’re now deploying as part of Kingpin in so many places. You’ve kept faith, adapted and thrived, further increasing the benefit that you bring to the fight.”

The governor acknowledged the day was likely bittersweet for many, as excitement for the deployment mixed with the reality of leaving family and the comforts of home.

“We’re proud to call you a Citizen-Airman in our Wisconsin National Guard, and on behalf of the entire state of Wisconsin, I want to tell you how grateful I am for your service both to our state and to our nation,” Evers said.