Maine Air National Guard personnel return from six-month deployment

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PORTLAND, MAINE (02/09/2023) (readMedia)-- The Maine Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron (EIS) welcomed home 30 personnel this week who were supporting overseas operations in Africa and Southwest Asia for over six months. The personnel were spread throughout various areas of the U.S. Central Command's and U.S. Africa Command's area of responsibility including Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Niger, Djibouti, and Kenya.

The personnel provided specialized cyber engineering resources and support assets for command and control systems for CENTCOM and AFRICOM. The returning members of the South Portland-based 243rd EIS worked in similar fields to which they train and prepare for at the South Portland Air National Guard Station.

"We have a very specialized skill set that plays an important role in supporting missions globally," said Capt. Alec Johnston, the 243rd EIS's officer in charge of engineering who spent most of his deployment at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait City. "We had a component of our team in Germany, providing management to the others. This allowed us to have a direct line of communication with our own 243rd EIS personnel who were receiving requests straight from the commands in Germany for our support in the other countries."

Members of the 243rd EIS are trained in providing information technology and communications setup, support, and removal at military installations across the globe. Many of the members of this deployment have supported previous missions.

"The 243rd plays an important role in providing communication support and these deployments will continue to allow our members to get incredible real-world experience," said Lt. Col. Clint Reed, commander of the 243rd EIS returning from deployment. "It's an incredible opportunity to see a different part of the world. But it is also gives us a great sense of accomplishment after completing a mission like this to return home to our support network in Maine who've been there for us throughout our deployment."

Personnel from the 243rd EIS returned in four groups over the past week. Family and friends joined members of the Maine National Guard at the Portland International Jetport to greet the small groups.

"It's great to be home," said Johnston, from West Gardiner. "While we had an incredible experience and we take pride in the work we were doing, I think I can speak for the rest of the 243rd to say that we are all happy to be back in Maine."

The 243rd EIS is co-located at the South Portland Air National Guard Station with the 265th Combat Communications Squadron. Both units of the Maine Air National Guard have supported numerous state and federal missions in recent years. Noticeably in Maine, both units provided personnel to support regional COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites and helped logistical operations for providing necessary equipment to health care providers throughout the area.

In addition to the two units in South Portland, the Maine Air National Guard is composed of the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor, and the Joint Force Headquarters component in Augusta.

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Airmen from the 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron greet family, friends and Maine National Guard members during their return home after supporting missions in U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command on Feb. 8, 2023, at the Portland International Jetport, Portland, ME. The deployment included support to military bases in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Niger, Djibouti, and Kenya. (Maine Air National Guard photos by Master Sgt. Travis Hill)