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133rd AW launches C-130s and Airmen to Afghanistan

A 133rd Airlift Wing loadmaster launches a C-130 H3 “Hercules” in the darkness of the early morning, seen through a night vision lens on Mar. 11, 2012. Over thirty members of the 133rd Airlift Wing launched before dawn from the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport.  USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

A 133rd Airlift Wing loadmaster launches a C-130 H3 “Hercules” in the darkness of the early morning, seen through a night vision lens on Mar. 11, 2012. Over thirty members of the 133rd Airlift Wing launched before dawn from the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

A Minnesota Air National Guard family spends a few moments together on March 7, 2012 just before the Airman boards his flight on a C-130 H3 “Hercules” and launches from the St. Paul Air National Guard base to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

A Minnesota Air National Guard family spends a few moments together on March 7, 2012 just before the Airman boards his flight on a C-130 H3 “Hercules” and launches from the St. Paul Air National Guard base to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Airmen from the Minnesota Air National Guard climb aboard a C-130 H3 “Hercules” as their friends and co-workers line up for their launch to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 7, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Airmen from the Minnesota Air National Guard climb aboard a C-130 H3 “Hercules” as their friends and co-workers line up for their launch to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 7, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

An Airman from the Minnesota Air National Guard walks in the cold early morning hours towards a waiting C-130 H3 “Hercules” that will take him and about 30 others to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mark Moss

An Airman from the Minnesota Air National Guard walks in the cold early morning hours towards a waiting C-130 H3 “Hercules” that will take him and about 30 others to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mark Moss

Minnesota Air National Guard officers share information just before a C-130 H3 “Hercules” prepares to launch to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 7, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Minnesota Air National Guard officers share information just before a C-130 H3 “Hercules” prepares to launch to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 7, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard, walk with the moon overhead in the early morning hours of March 9, 2012 towards a waiting C-130 H3 “Hercules” that will transport them and about 30 others to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard, walk with the moon overhead in the early morning hours of March 9, 2012 towards a waiting C-130 H3 “Hercules” that will transport them and about 30 others to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Minnesota Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash (right) is briefed on the flight deck of a the C-130 H3 “Hercules” by Col. Greg Haase (left), 133rd Airlift Wing commander, as the crew runs through preflight checks and prepares to launch the second chalk of the deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Minnesota Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash (right) is briefed on the flight deck of a the C-130 H3 “Hercules” by Col. Greg Haase (left), 133rd Airlift Wing commander, as the crew runs through preflight checks and prepares to launch the second chalk of the deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

A crew chief salutes as a Minnesota Air National Guard C-130 H3 “Hercules” launches to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

A crew chief salutes as a Minnesota Air National Guard C-130 H3 “Hercules” launches to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Young

Family members watch a C-130 H3 “Hercules” take off with about 30 Minnesota Air National Guard Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mark Moss

Family members watch a C-130 H3 “Hercules” take off with about 30 Minnesota Air National Guard Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 9, 2012 at the St. Paul Air National Guard base. USAF official photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mark Moss

Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, and Col. Greg Haase, commander of the 133rd Airlift Wing take turns shaking hands with Airman of the 133rd Airlift Wing as they deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Mar. 11, 2012. About thirty Airmen departed in the early morning from the St. Paul Air National Guard base at the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson
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Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, and Col. Greg Haase, commander of the 133rd Airlift Wing take turns shaking hands with Airman of the 133rd Airlift Wing as they deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Mar. 11, 2012. About thirty Airmen departed in the early morning from the St. Paul Air National Guard base at the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

A C-130 H3 pilot with the 133rd Airlift Wing programs radios in the cargo area of a “Hercules” prior to takeoff. Over thirty Minnesota Air National Guard members deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012, from the Air Guard base at the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson
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A C-130 H3 pilot with the 133rd Airlift Wing programs radios in the cargo area of a “Hercules” prior to takeoff. Over thirty Minnesota Air National Guard members deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012, from the Air Guard base at the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

Seen through a night vision lens in the dark cargo area aboard a 133rd Airlift Wing C-130 “Hercules,” an Airman takes a last check on her phone prior to deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012. Over thirty members of the 133rd Airlift Wing launched before dawn from the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport.  USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson
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Seen through a night vision lens in the dark cargo area aboard a 133rd Airlift Wing C-130 “Hercules,” an Airman takes a last check on her phone prior to deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012. Over thirty members of the 133rd Airlift Wing launched before dawn from the Minneapolis – St. Paul international airport. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

In the early morning darkness of Mar. 11, 2012 a Minnesota Air National Guard C-130 H3 “Hercules” cargo aircraft taxis towards the Minneapolis – St. Paul international runway with all four engines turning.  Over 30 Airmen of the 133rd Airlift Wing deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson
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In the early morning darkness of Mar. 11, 2012 a Minnesota Air National Guard C-130 H3 “Hercules” cargo aircraft taxis towards the Minneapolis – St. Paul international runway with all four engines turning. Over 30 Airmen of the 133rd Airlift Wing deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Mar. 11, 2012. USAF official photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

St. Paul, Minn. -- During the previous week, the Minnesota National Guard's St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing launched three C-130 H3 "Hercules" cargo aircraft carrying 98 airmen and cargo headed for Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

"Your citizen-airmen are ready to deploy at a moment's notice and I couldn't be prouder of them or more confident they will be successful during their deployments," said Col. Greg A. Haase, 133rd Airlift Wing Commander.

Currently, the Wing has a total of 157 airmen deployed throughout the world in support of contingency operations, said Maj. Ann M. Todd, 133rd Airlift Wing Executive Officer. The Wing is scheduled to deploy a total of 380 airmen during 2012 with the remaining airmen to deploy in waves throughout the rest of the year.

The 380 deployed and deploying Airmen include aircrew members, maintenance personnel, firefighters, engineers, communication, aeromedical and services specialists in addition to many others, said Todd.

The length of the deployments will range from two to six months, depending on the assignment and location, said Todd. This is the fifth, sixth or even seventh deployment to Southwest Asia for many 133rd Airlift Wing personnel.

The Wing's C-130 "Hercules" transport aircraft supports many military missions, including airdrop and airland delivery of critical supplies, equipment and personnel to remote airfields and to areas not easily reached by ground travel, said Todd. C-130s also provide aeromedical evacuation of wounded service members, where trained medical personnel provide timely, life-saving medical care while patients are transported to a medical facility.

In 2011, the St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing deployed 528 airmen to 16 countries in support of U.S. operations worldwide, said Todd. Since 9/11 the 133rd Airlift Wing has deployed more than 5,700 airmen to 36 countries around the world in support of the Global War on Terror.

The 133rd Airlift Wing is comprised of approximately 1,200 men and women who serve in support of state and national needs, said Todd. "They are your "Citizens Serving America ~ Airmen Defending Freedom."