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Airmen board a plane headed to the Middle East. About 70 airmen from Yokota Air Base deployed as part of Air Expeditionary Force 3-4 to support operations in southwest Asia.
Airmen board a plane headed to the Middle East. About 70 airmen from Yokota Air Base deployed as part of Air Expeditionary Force 3-4 to support operations in southwest Asia. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)
Airmen board a plane headed to the Middle East. About 70 airmen from Yokota Air Base deployed as part of Air Expeditionary Force 3-4 to support operations in southwest Asia.
Airmen board a plane headed to the Middle East. About 70 airmen from Yokota Air Base deployed as part of Air Expeditionary Force 3-4 to support operations in southwest Asia. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)
Staff Sgt. DeShawn Mitchell says goodbye to his son before boarding a plane for the Middle East.
Staff Sgt. DeShawn Mitchell says goodbye to his son before boarding a plane for the Middle East. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)
Lt. Col. Douglas Dickerson says goodbye to his son before boarding a plane for the Middle East.
Lt. Col. Douglas Dickerson says goodbye to his son before boarding a plane for the Middle East. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)
Senior Airman Tiffany Piazza plays with her son while she waits in a holding area to leave for deployment to the Middle East.
Senior Airman Tiffany Piazza plays with her son while she waits in a holding area to leave for deployment to the Middle East. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Approximately 70 Yokota Air Base airmen left Monday for southwest Asia as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 3-4.

“These airmen represent Yokota’s continuing commitment to the global war on terror,” said Col. Scott P. Goodwin, 374th Airlift Wing commander.

Lt. Col. Douglas Dickerson, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron director of operations, served as troop commander for the flight into the theater. Before departing, he spoke briefly to the airmen about the upcoming five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and reminded everyone of the mission’s importance.

Goodwin then came through to shake hands, wishing each deploying airman good luck.

“The airmen here today have received the best training in the world to prepare them for their mission,” he said. “And while they are gone, we will remain committed to providing support to their family members back home.”

A majority of the deploying troops will be stationed in Qatar, but others will be spread throughout southwest Asia.

Master Sgt. Dan Laitinen will be deploying to Baghdad. Laitinen said he felt sad leaving his family, but at the same time was excited to be going. Last year, he deployed to Qatar, but he said going to Iraq this year was a different level of excitement.

Deployments in the AEF last 120 days from arrival in country, said an Air Force official.

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