Cannon welcomes back its Airman

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Asbury, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, holds his son at the flightline shortly after returning to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. via a chartered jet Jan. 18. Sergeant Asbury was one of nearly 300 Airmen who returned on the flight after serving in Iraq for four months. (Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott McKay)

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Asbury, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, holds his son at the flightline shortly after returning to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. via a chartered jet Jan. 18. Sergeant Asbury was one of nearly 300 Airmen who returned on the flight after serving in Iraq for four months. (Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott McKay)

Staff Sgt. Jason DeRocha, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, spends time with his wife Sarah and his two-month old daughter Jessica shortly after his return to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. from Balad Air Base, Iraq Jan. 18. Sergeant DeRocha was one of nearly 300 Cannon Airmen who returned from a four-month deployment to Iraq as members of Air Expeditionary Force 3/4. (Air Force photo/Greg Allen)

Staff Sgt. Jason DeRocha, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, spends time with his wife Sarah and his two-month old daughter Jessica shortly after his return to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. from Balad Air Base, Iraq Jan. 18. Sergeant DeRocha was one of nearly 300 Cannon Airmen who returned from a four-month deployment to Iraq as members of Air Expeditionary Force 3/4. (Air Force photo/Greg Allen)

Family members, friends and co-workers pack into Hangar 133 to welcome back nearly 300 Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from Iraq Jan. 18. A commercial jet returned the Airmen following a four-month deployment. They were also greeted by area television and newspaper media as well as a live broadcast of their return by a Clovis, N.M. radio staton. (Air Force photo/Greg Allen)

Family members, friends and co-workers pack into Hangar 133 to welcome back nearly 300 Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from Iraq Jan. 18. A commercial jet returned the Airmen following a four-month deployment. They were also greeted by area television and newspaper media as well as a live broadcast of their return by a Clovis, N.M. radio staton. (Air Force photo/Greg Allen)

Staff Sgt. Sean Mulcahey, 27th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, embraces his daughter,Sabrina, Jan. 18, after returning from a four-month deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq. Sergeant Mulcahey was one of nearly 300 Airmen greeted by families, friends and co-workers at Hangar 133, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Randi Flaugh)

Staff Sgt. Sean Mulcahey, 27th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, embraces his daughter,Sabrina, Jan. 18, after returning from a four-month deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq. Sergeant Mulcahey was one of nearly 300 Airmen greeted by families, friends and co-workers at Hangar 133, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Randi Flaugh)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASEN N.M. -- Nearly 300 Cannon Airmen returned home Jan. 18 Thursday to hugs, handshakes and thank-yous after completing a four-month deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq, that occurred during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays.

Anxious family members and friends filled Hangar 133 to greet their returning Airmen who arrived to Cannon by charter jet. The F-16 aircraft returned later in the day and another aircraft with about 35 more Airmen will return soon.
"It's been nerve-wracking," said Joanne Lodder of the deployment of her husband Staff Sgt. Jason Lodder, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, adding that e-mail communication helped make it easier.
"It's time for me to be a dad," said Staff Sgt. Jason DeRocher, as he held his two-month old daughter, Jessica for the first time.
The deployment will be the last Air Expeditionary Force deployment for the 524th Fighter Squadron, but not the last for the 27th Fighter Wing.
This group of Airmen represents the largest deployment Cannon has had in the past year. On average, Cannon has had about 650 Airmen deployed throughout the world in support of various missions and operations.