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21 Airmen of the 50th EARS return home from Al Udeid

U.S Air Force Master Sgt. Tashara Eiland, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron squadron aviation records management NCO in charge, awaits a 50th ARS Airman at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

U.S Air Force Master Sgt. Tashara Eiland, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron squadron aviation records management NCO in charge, awaits a 50th ARS Airman at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 50th Air Refueling Squadron was part of a historical mass unit deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez, the 50th Air Refueling Squadron inspector general, hugs a family membet at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez, the 50th Air Refueling Squadron inspector general, hugs a family membet at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 50th Air Refueling Squadron was part of a historical mass unit deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

A 50th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft returns home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

A 50th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft returns home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 50th Air Refueling Squadron was part of a historical mass unit deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anthony Carella, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron first pilot, returns home and was greeted by family and friends at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Anthony Carella, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron first pilot, returns home and was greeted by family and friends at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020. Carella was a part of a historical two-month squadron deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Travis Ledger, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron safety officer, sees his wife for first time in two-months at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Travis Ledger, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron safety officer, sees his wife for first time in two-months at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020. Ledger was a part of a historical two-month squadron deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Drew Powers, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot, holds his son after returning home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Drew Powers, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot, holds his son after returning home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 18, 2020, from a two-month deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 50th Air Refueling Squadron was part of a historical mass unit deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar that supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Twenty-one members of the 50th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron (EARS) returned home to MacDill Air Force Base, Oct. 18, 2020, after serving two months in a mass unit deployment at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

The historical deployment was a first for the 50th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) who re-designated their squadron name after attaching to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid in replacement of the 349th EARS.  

“One of the greatest assets that the 50th brings to the fight is our ability to adapt and overcome adversity,” said Lt. Col Menola Guthrie, the 50th EARS commander.

The adversity came in the form of a first-time squadron deployment during an unprecedented pandemic that has affected the world as a whole.

“It was monumental with it being the first-ever squadron deployment for the 50th and with COVID-19 limitations ongoing, it brought its own unique set of challenges,” said Capt. Travis Ledger, the 50th ARS safety officer. “But it was great since our leadership worked extremely hard to make this the best possible experience for us all.”

During the deployment, the primary mission of the 50th ARS was to deliver fuel to U.S. and coalition forces in order to enable air superiority, regional deterrence and stability throughout U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility in the Middle East.

Additionally, these in-flight refueling missions supported Operations Spartan Shield, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve.

“This deployment continues to showcase the 6th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill AFB as one of the Air Force’s premier air refueling wings,” said Capt. Gordon Spahr, the 50th ARS B-Flight commander. 

Along with the 50th EARS, six maintainers with the 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron returned as well, all inside the aircraft that made the mission possible, the KC-135 Stratotanker.

Although only gone for two months, it was still a joyous occasion for everyone on the MacDill AFB flight line with family and friends awaiting to see the Airmen they care about come back safely.

“My wife and I are expecting our daughter to be here in December,” said Ledger. “So it was very exciting to see how much my wife has grown over the last couple of months and it’s just amazing to be back home with her again.”

While it is great that Airmen came back safely, the mission still goes on in Al Udeid, which is planned to conclude for the 50th ARS in December of 2020.

From there, the 350th ARS plans to pick up where the 50th ARS left off, in continuing the efforts by United States Air Force in providing stabilization and deterring aggression in the region.

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