Airmen return to Kingsley Field from air traffic control service in Iraq

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A team of air traffic controllers is welcomed back to Kingsley Field following a tour of duty in Iraq.

A crowd of over 100 welcomed the safe return of 14 men and 1 woman of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron.

The airmen returned after serving 6 months at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq.

“It would get to about 125 in the day, still stay about 95 to 100 degrees at night,” recalled Oregon Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Brent Ardolino. “You had to avoid scorpions, snakes, things like that.”

Major General Michael Stencel noted the 270th provided air traffic control to a “complex airspace in an unfriendly environment.”

Staff Sergeant Brock Perry of the Oregon Air National Guard offered a brief description of the mission: “Keeping planes separated, making sure nobody hits – trying to keep everybody safe and expeditious throughout the airspace.”

The airmen we spoke with say they’re very appreciative of the reception home.

“It’s a great feeling,” Staff Sergeant Ardolino said. “I know Klamath loves its military members, and it’s just nice being recognized in front of them.”

The unit specializes in mobile air traffic control.

One of their more unusual assignments was monitoring the flight of Keiko the whale from Mexico City to Newport, Oregon in 1996.

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