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  • By Major Jennifer Howsare
  • 126th Air Refueling Wing
The 126th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) based at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois Air National Guard, has been actively involved in and continues to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Recently the 126th ARW began to deploy, and will continue to deploy, more than 280 members in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and more than 40 members in support of counter-drug operations.

"Our Airmen deploy more frequently than most Illinois citizens may realize," said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "These Airmen are essential to the success of the Illinois National Guard and I am proud of their dedication to this organization."

The members deployed as part of their Air Expeditionary Force rotation, which is an Air Force rotational structure that provides predictability for most deployments and training. The deployed Airmen will mainly be involved in flying and maintenance operations providing aerial refueling. These missions play an important role helping promoting regional stability in Central Asia and throughout the region.

Master Sgt. Maria Porter of New Baden is currently deployed for this mission and is providing direct support to 126th ARW operations and maintenance personnel.

"I'm looking forward to this deployment and contributing to our mission," she said. "This will be my second deployment to this region and I'm excited to be a part of the 126th Air Refueling Wing team."

Since September 11, 2001, the 126th ARW Air Refueling Wing has supported operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom by deploying more than 2,420 members, transporting more than 678 tons of cargo, equating to roughly 1.36 million pounds, and off-loading more than 14.6 million gallons of JP-8 jet fuel. Wing members participating in these operations have received one Purple Heart, 25 Air Achievement Medals, three Air Medals, one Air Force Combat Action Medal and more than 60 Meritorious Service Medals.

The 126th ARW flies the KC-135R Stratotanker. The aircraft is a military version of the Boeing 707, and is capable of offloading approximately 200,000 pounds of fuel to receiver aircraft. The offload takes place in mid-air at air speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour. The tanker is only 20 feet above the nose of the receiver aircraft during fuel transfer.

The Airmen from the 126th ARW began departing for their overseas tour at the end of April. While various members of the 126th Air Refueling Wing are deployed, the unit is still fully capable of handling its day-to-day mission and any contingency missions that may arise.

Please contact Maj. Jennifer Howsare, 126th Public Affairs Office, at 618-222-5761 for further information. For high resolution photographs, please contact the 126th Public Affairs Office via email at, 126ARW.PA@ANG.AF.MIL.