Hardrock comes home
By Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published October 20, 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 the area.
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 on the ground and aircraft above 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 but part of the team all the same.
The 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 while defending his country 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 families again.
"We are all a family," said Prieto. "Having or Hardrockers come back makes us whole again and we can work at full force."
A1C Chelsie Taddonio was on scene at the return of the 726 ACS. Watch the video below for a first-hand look at the excitement.