Airmen Return Home

Col. Drew DeHaes, commanding officer of the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard welcomed 220 airmen back to the United States from a deployment in Afghanistan after they landed in Des Moines Monday night.

The unit has flown more than 800 combat missions in southern Afghanistan; one of their main duties to protect U.S. and Afghan ground forces. The 132nd Fighter Wing performed a first-ever feat for an Air National Guard unit when it moved all its aircraft, equipment and personnel from a base in Bagram to Kandahar Airfield.

This was the first time Col. DeHaes didn’t deploy with the unit in 14 years staying behind to be a part of the proposed budget discussions that continue in Washington, D.C., and Des Moines about whether to make changes in the 132nd Fighter Wing.

The proposal would cut 378 positions out of 1,000 from the unit, including 81 full-time jobs. U.S. Rep. Tom Latham last week opposed the Des Moines cuts at a House committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

Among those returning with the unit, F-16 Crew Chief Ryan Waldschmidt, and Lt. Col. Brian Claus, who has served with the Iowa Air National Guard since 2003 and was returning from his sixth deployment.