Thirty-one members of the Air National Guard's 152nd Medical Squadron returned to Reno on Sunday from their 17-day mission in Aviano, Italy.
"I've really missed her, " said Thomas Kuykendall, as he was waiting for wife Vicki to arrive on a C-130. "We have 5-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and I have my hands full when she's away."
The Kuykendalls have been married seven years and though Thomas has never served in the military he said he's very proud of his wife and the fact that she chooses to serve her country.
At noon the aircraft arrived at the Reno Air Guard flight facility and families embraced the weary travelers.
"I'm so happy to be home," said Staff Sgt. Vicki Kuykendall. "It was a great trip but it's so hard to be away from the twins."
Brig. Gen. Giles Vanderhoof, adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard, was on hand to welcome the squadron home and congratulate them on their success.
"I knew it was going to be a successful mission when I saw how well received they were and how they assimilated into the active duty Air Force Medical Group," said Vanderhoof, who actually flew over with the Medical Squadron on July 20th and stayed with the group for several days.
It took three days for the group to return from Aviano on the military C-130 with each leg of the journey lasting seven or eight hours. They landed first in the Azores in Portugal and then at Dover Air Force Base, spending the night at each location before continuing.
"It was a long trip there and back," said Chief Master Sgt. Steve Ingersoll, the health services manager of the squadron, "E but these kinds of missions are rejuvenating. We train here and do physicals and medical procedures, but this was a real world experience. Our unit encountered medical problems ranging from childbirth to emergency suturing. We were actually engaged in our profession which was very exciting, and it drew us together as a group."
The 152nd Medical Squad supported the Air Force's 31st Medical Group in its clinic and hospital in Italy. The group is located at Aviano Air Base and at another facility in Sacile, a town about 25 miles outside of Aviano.