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Colorado Air National Guard Citizen-Airmen Return from Iraq

Family and friends rush the airplane cheering for the return of more than 200 members of the Colorado Air National Guard who are returning from their deployment to Iraq. Airmen from the 140th Wing at Buckley Air Force Base have been at Joint Base Balad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the past 90 days. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Family and friends rush the airplane cheering for the return of more than 200 members of the Colorado Air National Guard who are returning from their deployment to Iraq. Airmen from the 140th Wing at Buckley Air Force Base have been at Joint Base Balad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the past 90 days. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Air Force Master Sgt. Ray Carter, aerospace ground equipment technician, 140th Wing, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Air National Guard, receives a joyous and tearful welcome home following his return from Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Master Sgt. Carter was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Air Force Master Sgt. Ray Carter, aerospace ground equipment technician, 140th Wing, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Air National Guard, receives a joyous and tearful welcome home following his return from Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Master Sgt. Carter was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Air Force Master Sgt. JT Theiral is rushed by his son Jarret as he speaks with Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bruno, 140th financial management specialist, about his travel voucher. Master Sgt. Theiral is returning from a 90 day deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq. - (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Air Force Master Sgt. JT Theiral is rushed by his son Jarret as he speaks with Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bruno, 140th financial management specialist, about his travel voucher. Master Sgt. Theiral is returning from a 90 day deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq. - (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Commanders and senior staff of the Colorado National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and 140th Wing salute the homecoming of more than 200 Airmen returning from their 90 day deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Commanders and senior staff of the Colorado National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and 140th Wing salute the homecoming of more than 200 Airmen returning from their 90 day deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Family and friends cheer as more than 200 members of the Colorado Air National Guard return from their deployment to Iraq. Airmen from the 140th Wing at Buckley Air Force Base have been at Joint Base Balad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the past 90 days. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

Family and friends cheer as more than 200 members of the Colorado Air National Guard return from their deployment to Iraq. Airmen from the 140th Wing at Buckley Air Force Base have been at Joint Base Balad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the past 90 days. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.) (RELEASED)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 200 Airmen assigned to the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., returned from a deployment to Iraq Saturday evening. 

More than 300 family and friends gathered at Buckley to welcome home and be reunited with their loved ones.

140th Wing maintenance, support personnel and pilots were away from their families and homes this summer after deploying last May. Most of the Traditional Guard members took leave from their civilian jobs to support the deployment. For many of the members, this was a return trip to Iraq as this is the Wing's fifth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2003.

While deployed, 140th Wing personnel launched F-16 Fighting Falcons from Joint Base Balad to patrol the skies over Iraq and support coalition ground forces.

"We need to take the time to thank these capable men and women for their courage and sacrifice. Our Airmen have volunteered their time and expertise miles from home to help make the world a safer place. Their families also deserve recognition for interrupting their lives and supporting their Airman as they serve our Nation and defend the freedom of others," said 140th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre.

Here in Colorado, the 140th Wing's day-to-day mission is to protect our skies by responding rapidly and appropriately to potential air threats in support of Operation Noble Eagle, the military operation to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Aircraft from the 140th Wing are on alert 24/7.