142nd Fighter Wing Airmen honored for European deployment

The Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing welcomed home approximately 200 Airmen who deployed to Europe, in a formal demobilization ceremony, Nov. 6, at the Portland Air National Guard Base (PANG).

In attendance at the ceremony were Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader, and Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon, among state and other elected officials.

“Oregon Guardsmen put themselves in harm’s way, leaving their jobs, their families and their security here at home, to work for our security abroad,” said Col. Paul T. Fitzgerald, 142nd Fighter Wing commander.

In June, the U.S. Air Force deployed members of the 142nd Fighter Wing, PANG Base, as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP) in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, to bases across Europe, including Romania and Hungary.

The TSP unit, known as the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), included a total of 12 aircraft and approximately 200 Airmen to augment the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s (USAFE) existing efforts. The Airmen trained alongside NATO allies to strengthen interoperability.

“We provided a forward presence in Europe to reassure our NATO allies of the U.S. commitment to peace and regional stability,” said Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan, who commanded the 123rd EFS during the deployment. “At home or abroad, the Oregon Air National Guard is always on mission.”

While deployed, Sullivan’s unit members also raised more than $3,500 dollars to provide backpacks filled with clothing and toiletries for orphans who lived near their deployed airbase. The Airmen visited with the orphans on two separate occasions. A few of the Airmen were able to adopt stray dogs and have them shipped home to Oregon through non-profit animal rescue organizations.