by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/22/2015 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- More
than 100 members of the 726th Air Control Squadron returned Oct. 18
from a deployment to Southwest Asia supporting multiple operations in
Since April, the 726th ACS, also known as Hardrock, provided support
using various forms of communication and detection equipment across the
areas they were deployed.
"Our mission is to control the airspace wherever we are sent," said Maj.
Rene Prieto, 726 ACS director of communication and operations. "We keep
the skies clear and the ground informed."
Their efforts supported troops and aircraft throughout the
876,000-square-mile region. They established more than 150 communication
systems and earned 100 percent completion on every mission assigned
during their six-month deployment.
"It's amazing what we ask of them and what they give back to us day-in
and day-out," said Prieto. "Of the one percent who raised their hand in
America to join the military, I think these guys are some of the best."
The 726th is a tenant unit here and assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
Their Air Force family is ready to have them back, but the joy of their own families is an entirely different story.
"The kids are really excited; there is just a lot of stress leading up
to this moment," laughed Wendy Strength, spouse of Senior Airman Jesse
Strength, 726th ACS weapons director. "But, when he finally comes back,
I'll be extremely happy. And then I'll probably cry later."
Some have missed important moments while defending their country. Jesse
missed his daughter's first steps and deployers like Tech. Sgt. Raymond
Parker even missed the birth of their children.
"Some of our returning airmen are seeing their children for the first
time today," said Prieto. "There is a lot of change happening and I want
them all to know we are here to help with whatever comes their way."
The Hardrocks made an impact overseas and after six months of
communication and intelligence missions, they're finally home with their
"We are all a family," said Prieto. "Having our Hardrockers come back makes us whole again and we can work at full force."