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D-M Airmen deploy to support OEF

An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 354th Fighter Squadron takes off from D-M, as friends, family members and colleagues bid farewell. Twelve A-10 pilots from the 354th FS deployed to Afghanistan April 7 to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 354th Fighter Squadron takes off from D-M, as friends, family members and colleagues bid farewell. Twelve A-10 pilots from the 354th FS deployed to Afghanistan April 7 to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 354th Fighter Squadron takes off from D-M, as friends, family members and colleagues bid farewell. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS deployed Saturday to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 354th Fighter Squadron takes off from D-M, as friends, family members and colleagues bid farewell. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS deployed Saturday to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 pilot from the 354th Fighter Squadron here waves to friends, family members and colleagues on D-M's flight line before taxiing out to the runway for takeoff. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS deployed Saturday to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 pilot from the 354th Fighter Squadron here waves to friends, family members and colleagues on D-M's flight line before taxiing out to the runway for takeoff. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS deployed Saturday to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

Friends and family exchange farewell waves with an A-10 pilot from the 354th Fighter Squadron here, as he makes his way to the runway for takeoff. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS left for Afghanistan April 7, as part of a larger D-M deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

Friends and family exchange farewell waves with an A-10 pilot from the 354th Fighter Squadron here, as he makes his way to the runway for takeoff. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS left for Afghanistan April 7, as part of a larger D-M deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 354th Fighter Squadron here slowly makes its way from the hangars to the runway here April 7, before departing for Afghanistan. Approximately 300 D-M Airmen are scheduled to deploy over the next several days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 354th Fighter Squadron here slowly makes its way from the hangars to the runway here April 7, before departing for Afghanistan. Approximately 300 D-M Airmen are scheduled to deploy over the next several days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

Friends, family members and colleagues watch and wave as a KC-10 aircraft makes its way to the runway here for takeoff. The KC-10 left D-M April 7 to provide air-refueling support to 12 A-10 pilots, who departed for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

Friends, family members and colleagues watch and wave as a KC-10 aircraft makes its way to the runway here for takeoff. The KC-10 left D-M April 7 to provide air-refueling support to 12 A-10 pilots, who departed for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa Taeu)

Two A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 354th Fighter Squadron here leave D-M and head for Afghanistan. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS left April 7, as part of a larger D-M deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Noah Johnson)

Two A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 354th Fighter Squadron here leave D-M and head for Afghanistan. Twelve pilots from the 354th FS left April 7, as part of a larger D-M deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Noah Johnson)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Approximately 50 Airmen from the 354th Fighter Squadron and 355th Maintenance Group here deployed to Afghanistan April 7, along with a number of the 355th Wing's A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

More than 200 additional D-M Airmen are also scheduled to depart for Afghanistan this week. 

The 354th FS "Bulldogs" and the 355th MXG operate and maintain the A-10, an attack aircraft primarily used to provide close air support to Soldiers and Marines on the ground. A-10 missions also include combat search and rescue, and forward air control for other combat aircraft. The A-10 is employed against enemy ground forces throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.

"America's Airmen from Davis-Monthan are ready for combat," explained Col. Kent Laughbaum, 355th Wing Commander. "Many of our Airmen are veterans of previous operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Others will go to war for the first time. The A-10 has earned a tremendous reputation for combat effectiveness, particularly with Soldiers and Marines engaged in a close fight with the enemy. I know that Soldiers across Afghanistan look forward, with great anticipation, to the arrival or our Airmen and our A-10s. I can assure you that the enemy will feel differently.

"I am proud of these Airmen," Colonel Laughbaum added. "All are volunteers, and many chose to serve America after the attacks against our country on Sep. 11, 2001. Their sacrifices are significant, especially the long separation from family, friends and homeland. They are truly a noble generation."