SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. (AP) As many Detroit-area residents were beginning their workday yesterday, 44 Air Force reservists with the 927th Air Refueling Wing embarked on an undisclosed mission.
With about 50 family members waving and shouting goodbyes and several children waving American flags the reservists headed away from Selfridge on a gray KC-135 refueling plane.
Fifty-seven Security Forces members in the 927th Air Refueling Wing were called up last Thursday by the secretary of defense for up to two years, but only 44 of those members 40 men and four women were deployed yesterday morning.
More than 53,000 reservists have been called to active duty nationwide since President Bush authorized a partial mobilization on Sept. 14.
“They are anxious and ready to serve,” said Lt. Jeff, a 927th squadron commander whose last name isn”t being used for security reasons.
In the days since being activated, the reservists have been checking equipment, having medical tests and shots, packing gear and making sure all personal matters like wills and life insurance are in order, the lieutenant said.
Members of the 927th Security Forces Squadron have been on active-duty missions before, but many said the battle against terrorism is like no other.
“Morale is very high. They”ve been training for this, and they”re ready to do their mission,” Jeff said yesterday before departing.
He said he”s excited about the mission, but will miss his wife, son and three daughters.
“My wife told me to keep my head low and take care of my troops,” he said. “And I”m sure my daughters have tucked something away in my gear for me.”
Capt. Bruce Messer, with the public affairs office, said the families of deployed reservists will be well taken care of while their loved ones are away. He said there are many support programs for family members and help is “just a phone call away.”
The military has tried to improve morale among reservists and Guard members who are activated. Most branches of the military reserves and National Guard now have family readiness offices not available during the Persian Gulf War which help those serving and their families prepare for the possibility of being called up.
Jeff said members of the Security Forces squadron are ready to provide base, aircraft and personnel security, but their exact mission isn”t clear. They could provide homeland security or be deployed overseas.
The approximately 900 members of 927th Air Refueling Wing are trained to be like gas stations in the sky refueling planes mid-flight by lowering a thin tube into anything from a jet fighter to a B2 Stealth bomber at 20,000 feet and hundreds of miles an hour.
By refueling planes in the air, the 927th can almost double the range of the planes the gas up especially in countries that don”t allow U.S. warplanes on their soil.
The 927th has everything necessary to establish an airport except the runway, including civil engineers, security, maintenance and communications personnel.
927th wing commander Col. Kenneth Suggs said Wednesday that he hasn”t been called yet, but he would welcome the chance to serve.
“I wish I was going,” Suggs said as the KC-135 plane roared to life behind him.