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260 Hill airmen go to Afghanistan

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — About 260 people from Hill Air Force Base deployed during the past week to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Most of the airmen — pilots as well as maintenance and support personnel — are from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and reserve 419th Fighter Wing. They will make up the 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, known as the Rude Rams, at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and will be deployed to the region for at least 120 days, according to a news release from Hill.

The pilots will use the F-16 Fighting Falcon in close-air support missions to protect coalition ground forces.

Hill regularly deploys in support of Operation Enduring Freedom missions, the release states. In July 2009, F-16 jets, pilots and maintenance and support personnel assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron — the Black Widows — and 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployed to Bagram. It was the first F-16 unit from the United States to deploy to that location. They returned in October.

About 20 Air Force reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing volunteered to deploy alongside their active-duty counterparts and will continue to do so during future 388th Fighter Wing rotations in support of overseas contingency operations.

— Joseph M. Dougherty