Small Guard pilot unit returns home from Iraq

Posted June 18, 2009, at 8:35 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Whether it’s a group of more than 100 or fewer than 10, when a Maine Army National Guard unit returns home, it’s a special thing.

Thursday afternoon marked the latter when seven members of the guard’s Operational Support Airlift Command, or OSACOM, unit flew into Bangor from a nine-month deployment in Iraq.

The group of pilots was responsible for executing small transport missions of soldiers and cargo throughout the war-torn country. In all, the unit logged 2,400 hours in nine months on a C-12F Huron aircraft, according to its commanding officer, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ben Ayer of Newport.

“It feels great to be home,” Ayer said shortly after stepping off the small plane at the Army Guard base adjacent to Bangor International Airport. “I’m looking forward to enjoying some normal family time for a while.”

And, he added, “it was starting to get pretty hot over there.”

Most troop homecomings feature many of the same elements. There are extended hugs and handshakes, emotional husbands and wives, tearful reunions with young children, and finally a collective sense of relief.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mike McGovern of Eddington experienced the entire spectrum of emotions when he greeted his wife, Jennifer, and two young sons for the first time in nine months. He remarked that his youngest child, Joshua, at 17 months, has grown up fast while his father was away.

Several members of the Maine Army National Guard base in Augusta, as well as some stationed in Bangor, attended the homecoming event Thursday. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darrell Stevens was among those who drove from Augusta.

“Everyone deserves a homecoming,” he said.

Ayer said the OSACOM unit previously served a nine-month tour in Afghanistan in 2003.

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