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Airmen return to Utah after six-month deployment

A photo of the 421st Fighter Squadron returning to Hill AFB following a deployment.

Hundreds of Airmen from the 421st Fighter Squadron return to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Oct. 25, 2020, following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The deployment included Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings. While deployed, the 421st FS employed the F-35A in close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enable regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the MIddle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Staff Sgt. Jevon Rondeau and his wife, Sydney, share a kiss as their two-year-old son Dawson looks on. Jevon arrived home Sunday following a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Staff Sgt. Jevon Rondeau and his wife, Sydney, share a kiss as their two-year-old son Dawson looks on. Jevon arrived home Sunday following a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. He is an Air Reserve Technician and works in the 419th Fighter Wing’s non-destructive inspection shop. “He’s deployed before, but this is the first for me with two small children at home,” Sydney said. “This past week of waiting for him to get home has gone by so slowly. I’m very glad to have him back.” (U.S. Air Force photo)

Sydney Rondeau has her hands full with son, Dawson, age 2, and 7-month-old daughter, Ava, as they patiently await the arrival of Staff Sgt. Jevon Rondeau, who returned home Sunday following a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Sydney Rondeau has her hands full with son, Dawson, age 2, and 7-month-old daughter, Ava, as they patiently await the arrival of Staff Sgt. Jevon Rondeau, who returned home Sunday following a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This was the third deployment for Jevon, who is an Air Reserve Technician in the 419th Fighter Wing’s non-destructive inspection shop. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Myelie Bailey and her husband, Staff Sgt. Austin Bailey, take down their masks to get a good look at each other Sunday following Austin’s return from a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Myelie Bailey and her husband, Staff Sgt. Austin Bailey, take down their masks to get a good look at each other Sunday following Austin’s return from a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The couple has been married three years and this was their first deployment. “It’s been really hard communicating and staying in touch with the time difference,” Myelie said. “We definitely have a lot to catch up on and I’m so glad he’s home.” Austin is an avionics mechanic in the 419th Fighter Wing and is working toward his commercial pilot license in the civilian sector. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A photo of the 421st Fighter Squadron returning to Hill AFB following a deployment.

Pilots and F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron return to Hill Air Force Base, Utah following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 23, 2020. The deployment included Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings. While deployed, the 421st FS employed the F-35A in close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enable regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the MIddle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

A photo of the 421st Fighter Squadron returning to Hill AFB following a deployment.

Hundreds of Airmen from the 421st Fighter Squadron return to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Oct. 25, 2020, following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The deployment included Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings. While deployed, the 421st FS employed the F-35A in close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enable regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the MIddle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

A photo of the 421st Fighter Squadron returning to Hill AFB following a deployment.

Hundreds of Airmen from the 421st Fighter Squadron return to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Oct. 25, 2020, following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The deployment included Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings. While deployed, the 421st FS employed the F-35A in close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enable regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the MIddle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

A photo of the 421st Fighter Squadron returning to Hill AFB following a deployment.

Airmen with the 421st Fighter Squadron return to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Oct. 25, 2020, following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The deployment included Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings. While deployed, the 421st FS employed the F-35A in close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enable regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the MIddle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Hundreds of Airmen from the expeditionary 421st Fighter Squadron returned here Sunday following a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

The deployment, in support of the United States Air Forces Central Command mission, included Airmen from the active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing.

“We’re extremely happy to welcome everyone home in time for the holiday season and look forward to seeing our folks reunited with their loved ones,” said Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th FW commander. “Deployments are always a challenge and each of our return deployers and their families deserve a pat on the back for a job well done.”

During the deployment, the wings employed the F-35A on close air support missions, performed offensive and defensive counter-air, and enabled regional deterrence by participating in joint exercises with national partners in the Middle East.

“We’re all proud of the job that the 421st FS has done and we’re excited to have them back home,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th FW Wing commander. “They picked up right where our previously deployed squadrons left off. We’ll continue to train here and remain focused on providing F-35A combat capability.”

The deployment was the third time in 16 months that F-35As from Hill AFB were called upon to support a combat mission, demonstrating the readiness of the wings’ Airmen and the capabilities of the F-35A Lightning II. The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, provides greater operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology.

The returning Airmen will quarantine for 14 days to prevent any potential spread of the coronavirus.

The 388th and 419th are the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35A units, flying and maintaining 78 jets in a total force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both the active duty and Reserve components.