U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Keith Palaka, 55th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, reunites with his wife Courtney Palaka at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 4, 2012. Palaka, along with 234 members of the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron returned home from a four-month deployment at Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/ Released)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Thomas Cuellar, 55th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, hugs his girlfriend Briana Holbrick after his return home to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 4, 2012 after completing a four-month deployment. An Airbus A330 aircraft returned with 235 members of the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/ Released)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Holton, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, holds his daughter Joy Holton after arriving at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 4, 2012. Holton returned home with 234 members of the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron after completing a four-month deployment at Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/ Released)
by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
5/9/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Members of the 55th Fighter Squadron and the Shooter Aircraft Maintenance Unit returned from a four-month deployment to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea May 4 on the Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. flightline.
An Airbus A330 returned with 235 members of the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron returning from a four-month deployment behind the F-16 Fighting Falcons.
"The F-16 aircraft and support personnel were part of a Theater Support Package to partner and train with South Korea and other United States assets while deterring North Korean aggression," said Maj. Joseph Palen, 55th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations.
The 55th worked alongside ROK-US alliance partners to maintain peace and stability to the region during their deployment.
"The ROK-US Alliance has never been stronger," said Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 7th Air Force commander Pacific Air Forces, Osan Air Base, South Korea. "These deployments reaffirm our commitment to providing the right combat air power and capabilities in defense of the ROK."
The returning Airmen were greeted by their friends and family at building 1614 who eagerly awaited them with signs saying how much they were missed.
"Being on the plane coming home was real nerve-racking because I hadn't seen my husband in so long," said Katarina Helmick, Shooters' scheduler. "It was like one of those moments in the movies when I saw him again. The crowd spilt and I ran up to him."
A chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts whose mission is to honor America's servicemembers, also stood by, providing a tunnel of American flags for the Shooters to walk through as they were applauded and thanked for their service.
In order for the jets to arrive home each aircraft flew a nine-hour flight with eight mid-air refuelings over 4,500 nautical miles.
In the past eight months the 55th FS has deployed twice to two separate continents supporting two different combatant commands.