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Wyoming Airmen return from six month deployment

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The murmur of family, friends and guests carried by the Wyoming wind fills the air with excitement as they wait for the 153rd Security Forces Squadron Airmen to arrive.

A Wyoming C-130 hums above as its four propellers cut through the sky on a final approach. Barely audible, a small voice is heard, "My mommy's here."

The excitement heightens as the C-130 rolls to a stop, the doors open and the Airmen exit the aircraft one by one.

This scene unfolded as more than 20 members of the Wyoming Air National Guard returned Thursday from a six-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Airmen were tasked with security operations in and around Sather Air Base, Iraq.

"Not a day goes by that I don't reflect on those deployed and hope for their safe return," said Col. Dennis Grunstad, 153rd Airlift Wing commander.

Grunstad, along with fellow command staff and prominent local dignitaries, waited outside the aircraft to greet the Airmen upon their return.

Also in attendance were the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that supports veterans. The riders formed a passageway lined with American flags to show their appreciation and support of the returning Airmen.

"We hope (the Airmen) realize how much we appreciate their service and we want them to know we are there for them anytime for any purpose," said Wayne Webster, retired state captain for the Wyoming Patriot Guard Riders.

Currently, the Wyoming Air National Guard has more than 1,100 men and women assigned. The wing continues its support of Operation Iraqi  Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom through year-round missions by both Air National Guard Airmen and their active duty co-workers, the 30th Airlift Squadron.