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389th FS returns from extended deployment

389th Fighter Squadron returns home from an extended eight month deployment, June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka)

389th Fighter Squadron returns home from an extended eight month deployment, June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Reynolds, 366th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron independent duty medical technician, scans the temperature of Airmen of the 389th Fighter Squadron returning Airmen, June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The temperature check is for pre-COVID-19 screening which is part of the re-integration process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Reynolds, 366th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron independent duty medical technician, scans the temperature of Airmen of the 389th Fighter Squadron returning Airmen, June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The temperature check is for pre-COVID-19 screening which is part of the re-integration process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

The 389th Fighter Squadron returned from deployment, May 31, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The deployment was extended by two months due to COVID-19 precautions, resulting in an eight month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tyrell Hall)

The 389th Fighter Squadron returned from deployment, May 31, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The deployment was extended by two months due to COVID-19 precautions, resulting in an eight month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tyrell Hall)

389th Fighter Squadron celebrates coming home from deployment June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. While deployed, 389th FS Airmen met eight out of eight maintenance matrix indicators during the month of March, boasting the squadron’s best performance in seven years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

389th Fighter Squadron celebrates coming home from deployment June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. While deployed, 389th FS Airmen met eight out of eight maintenance matrix indicators during the month of March, boasting the squadron’s best performance in seven years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dan Hansen 366th Munitions Squadron first sergeant (left), Maj. Jonathan Hoefing 366th Munitions Squadron commander (mid), and 2nd Lt. Callie Welch 366th Munitions Squadron flight commander (right) pose for a photo with a welcome home poster June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The poster is for the return of the 389th Fighter Squadron after an 8-month long deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dan Hansen 366th Munitions Squadron first sergeant (left), Maj. Jonathan Hoefing 366th Munitions Squadron commander (mid), and 2nd Lt. Callie Welch 366th Munitions Squadron flight commander (right) pose for a photo with a welcome home poster June 3, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The poster is for the return of the 389th Fighter Squadron after an 8-month long deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

Friends and family wait for the returning 389th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, June 3, 2020. The deployment was extended by two months due to COVID-19 travel restrictions resulting in an eight month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

Friends and family wait for the returning 389th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, June 3, 2020. The deployment was extended by two months due to COVID-19 travel restrictions resulting in an eight month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID -- A crowd of family and friends, some holding welcome home signs, wait for their loved ones to return from deployment in the parking lot of Hanger 201. On the other end of Hanger 201, is a crowd of Airmen, ranging from Airman Basic to Colonel, waiting on the flightline to welcome home the 389th Fighter Squadron.


The 389th FS supported OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE while deployed. They returned home over the last week after completing an extended deployment due to COVID-19, where they were met with the sounds of celebration and the echoes of fellow Airmen saying welcome back.

“It’s exciting to be back home,” said Lt. Col. Roderick James, 389th FS commander. “Our Airmen had been gone for about eight months. It was a little longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic but overall everyone is in great spirits and very happy to be back with their families.”


The pandemic has produced challenges for the return of the 389th FS. Capt. Pal Cunada, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer. Together with the aid of 1st Lt. Steven MarcAurele, 389th FS section commander, and other fellow officers, they came up with new ways to reintegrate the 389th FS while following public health guidelines.

“It completely threw a wrench in our plans,” said Cunada. “We kind of had to go back to the drawing board.” The officers had to change building locations and start implementing the DOD guidance in the reintegration process.

“We had to add in a lot of the COVID-19 guidance from DOD on what public health needed to do to determine that people were not sick and not showing symptoms of the COVID-19,” said Cunada. “DOD guidance recently added that public health needed to do actual temperature checks so they had little scanners on their forehead and ears.”

According to Cunada, building 1333 was where the 389th FS were supposed to land but because the building didn’t provide enough space for the Airmen to maintain social distancing, they changed the location to Hanger 201.

“The entire process was a great feat of innovative thought and processing,” said MarcAurele. “We did right by our Airmen by getting them back in a safe and orderly fashion while still adhering to our COVID-19 policies. It created a little bit extra work but it was all worth it.”

Despite the unexpected challenges, the 389th FS has safely returned to the base. And as they reunite with their friends and love ones, they can rest knowing that they can spend time with their loved ones.

“It’s crazy and a little different with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading,” said Senior Airman Brandon Taylor, 389th FS aerospace ground equipment journeyman. "But it feels great to see the love and appreciation.”

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