Airlift wing members home from overseas
Their plane developed a brake problem, so they returned by bus.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
VIENNA -- Friday's ceremonial final homecoming from the Middle East for 910th Airlift Wing personnel was delayed by airplane mechanical problems, but the smiles, cheers and tears of the Air Force reservists and their families and friends as reservists arrived showed the wait was well worth it.
Ten reservists arrived at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station here shortly after 5 p.m., making the final leg of their journey by bus because their C-130 developed brake problems in Pittsburgh and it was unknown how long repairs would take.
Some joking comments about the plane's getting fixed and beating the bus to Vienna were nearly prophetic. The plane they left in Pittsburgh did a fly-over here only a few minutes after the bus pulled up.
The homecoming was to honor all 910th personnel who either already have returned or were returning home after being activated for the maximum two years within a five-year period.
That means they should be staying home for a while, military officials said.
But Friday's arrivals are not the last. The final group of the 910th still deployed, with the exception of a few volunteers, is scheduled to arrive at the air base Sunday.
Last Tuesday, a 910th C-130 brought 18 reservists home from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
The homecomings are about reuniting families that have been apart several times -- sometimes for weeks and months -- since the 910th was activated four years ago.
Ellen Loomis and her daughter, Samantha, of Howland, were among the family members eagerly waiting for the bus to return their husband and father, Lt. Col. Donald Loomis, from his fifth tour in Qatar.
"I'm glad it's his last rotation. It's so nice to have him home," said Ellen, a preschool special education teacher for the Windham Schools.
Missing her daddy
Samantha, a fifth-grader at H.C. Mines Elementary School in Howland, said when her father is gone she misses just having him around and doing things like putting her on the school bus.
"He's missed all the father-daughter dances at school. I'm looking forward to him going with me this year," Samantha said.
"I'm so glad he made it safe through all this time," said Donna Beavers of her son, Staff Sgt. Daniel Marhulik.
Beavers, of Warren, was waiting with Marhulik's son and daughter, Daniel, nicknamed D.J., 12, and Merissa, 13, both pupils at Lakeview Middle School in Cortland, and his niece, Grace Marhulik. Grace is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Thomas Marhulik, Daniel's brother, who returned from Qatar last Tuesday.
Being in the 910th is a family affair as well for the Indorfs of Massillon. Senior Master Sgt. David Indorf was on hand to greet his son, Senior Airman Shawn Indorf, who he said turns 21 today.
"I'm just glad he is back safe. It's quite an experience for a young man," he said.
In 2003-2004, the senior Indorf, a flight engineer, was activated at the same time as his older son, Technical Sgt. Joshua, and the two were stationed in Kuwait at the same time.
And, the senior Indorf said, his third son, Jerod, a senior at Massillon High School, is already talking to recruiters about joining the Air Force Reserve.
Some 500 members of the 910th were activated over the past four years to support Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Joint Forge, making it the largest activation in YARS history, officials said.
Col. Timothy Thomson, 910th and YARS commander, said he will not be able to relax until all his personnel get back safely. The good news is, he said, that they are all, except for a few volunteers, out of the combat zone.
He noted, however, that the war on terrorism is continuing, and that two C-130 aerial spray units from the 910th, and about 50 reservists, are in Louisiana flying missions to kill insects to help prevent the spread of disease in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.