30 Connecticut Air National Guard Members Return on Fourth of July

Families of the nearly 30 members of the Connecticut Air National Guard's 103rd Airlift Wing who were deployed in Southwest Asia since February welcomed them home on a special day, the Fourth of July. 

Approximately 100 members of the unit are returning this week and the first group came in to the Bradley Air National Guard Base today, where Gov. Dannel Malloy greeted them as they came off the plane. 

Then, the National Guard members were greeted by the waiting arms of their wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, girlfriends, boyfriends, grandparents, siblings and other loves ones.

"I'm trying really hard not to ball my eyes out. I'm trying not to cry," Bailee Graveline, of Prospect, said. 

She said it was difficult to be away from her little sister.

"I missed her crawling, I missed her walking and her first words, so it was a little tough, but you know it's good to be home now. She recognizes me, which was awesome and she just wanted to be held, so it was awesome," Graveline said. 

TSgt. Ryan Sullivan, of Wethersfield, was greeted with a giant banner welcoming him home Tuesday. 

"I'm really happy, especially on July Fourth. It's extra special," Sullivan said.  

The Airmen were deployed to several locations in Southwest Asia and supported Expeditionary Combat Support operations that included tactical airlift, maintenance, security and logistics support, according to the Connecticut National Guard. 

"As we celebrate the nation's independence this week, we also celebrate the return of over 100 Connecticut Air Guard members from overseas deployment in support of C-130 flight operations," Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, the Adjutant General and commanding officer of the Connecticut National Guard, said in a statement.. "These Airmen have much to be proud of as they have successfully completed the 103rd Air Wing's first overseas deployment flying the C-130 aircraft." 

Of the nearly 300 Airmen who began to deploy in late 2016, more than 200 have returned safely and those still deployed will return throughout the summer, according to the Connecticut National Guard. 

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