116th Air Control Squadron mobilizes for overseas assignment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Nearly 90 members of the Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Squadron (ACS) were recognized during a formal mobilization ceremony held April 11, 2015, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center here at Camp Withycombe, as they mobilize to provide surveillance and air space management for air operations in and around the Arabian Gulf.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown addressed the deploying Airmen and their families, identifying the sacrifice that Citizen-Airmen continue to make to support the Overseas Contingency Operations.

"Your presence overseas will aid important global missions and I have no doubt you will represent Oregon with courage, skill and honor," Brown said to the departing Airmen as she also acknowledged, "the void of the unit that is still here - the family unit; thank you for your courage and forbearance."

The 116th ACS based at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Oregon, is a deployable radar and communications unit that provides air control, communications and operations in military airspaces. The Airmen are schedule to deploy to Southwest Asia for approximately six months.

The Airmen of the 116th will support air-to-air and air-to-ground engagements, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, air-to-air refueling, humanitarian support, and Patriot missile defense.

Other ceremony attendees included Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Adjutant General, Oregon, and Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Air Component Commander.

Addressing those in attendance, Hokanson traced the history of the National Guard's 377 years of service back to the 'First Muster' of colonial militia in Massachusetts on December 13, 1636, to the present day with the Airmen from the 116th mobilized for duty.

"Like their forefathers, the Citizen-Airmen before us are stepping forward, leaving their families and employers; volunteering to serve their nation and to help make our world a better place," Hokanson said.

Since 9/11 the 116th ACS has made numerous overseas deployments; beginning in 2006 in Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraq in 2008 in support of the Global War on Terror and Qatar in 2011, to provide Air Defense of the Arabian Gulf.

As the unit has mobilized for major operations the past 14 years, new members continue to join the ACS, eager to contribute to the current mission.

After enlisting just over a year ago, Airman 1st Class Lindsie N. Gallardo, assigned to the 116th ACS as a surveillance technician, is embarking on her first deployment.

"I work in command and control. Our preparation has been excellent so we'll definitely be ready," said Gallardo. "We have been given a plethora of scenarios in our training and I have confidence in our whole team based on their experience on previous deployments."

Gallardo says she knows her family is supporting her as she makes her first trip abroad.

"They are behind me 100 percent, no doubt," she said. "While I am taking a break from college, this deployment allows me to develop all the new skills I have been working on."

Some of those new skills will be quickly put to use once she arrives overseas.

"I wanted to join this particular unit because I wanted to talk directly with the pilots, point out who are good guys from the bad guys. Maybe someday I can be the pilot on the other end but for now, it is one step at a time."

Until the unit returns, family and friends will miss birthdays, anniversaries and other special events as the Airmen are deployed.

"I realize that this deployment also requires sacrifices by your families and loved ones," said Brown. "I speak for all Oregonians when I say that we will anxiously await your safe return. You will never be far from our thoughts and prayers."