Hill Air Force Base Fighter Wings return from 3-month deployment to the Middle East

Sep 30, 2023, 4:45 PM | Updated: 5:03 pm

CLEARFIELD, Davis County — It helps that Ashley Schoolcraft teaches kindergarten. Because when it came time to do some arts and crafts with her son, she wanted it to be perfect.

“Do you want to make a poster and write something on the back?” Schoolcraft said to her son.

Using different colored markers, the “welcome back” post looked about as good as it gets.

“My nerves are really going. I got butterflies in my stomach,” Schoolcraft said with a laugh.

Ashley Schoolcraft helping her son, Adam, creating "welcome home" signs at Hill Air Force Base.

Ashley Schoolcraft helping her son, Adam, create “welcome home” signs at Hill Air Force Base. (Mark Less/KSL TV)

Even though she has felt these feelings before, welcoming her husband home from another military deployment never gets old.

“Yeah. This is our life. I talked to him at 4 o’clock this morning, and they were getting close, so it is very exciting,” Schoolcraft said.

Just before 9 a.m., the airplane carrying her husband and nearly 300 other Airmen landed at Hill Air Force Base. These airmen are coming home from a 3-month mission in the Middle East, helping provide air support in the war against terrorism.

“We are the only F-35 combat wing in air combat command, so any time there’s anything going on in the globe, we get the call,” said Commander Michael Gette of the 388th Fighter Wing. “I am very proud of the job they did over there.”

Hill Air Force Base families getting ready to meet their loved one who are returning from deployment.

Hill Air Force Base families getting ready to meet their loved ones who are returning from deployment. (Mark Less/KSL TV)

For Schoolcraft and her sons, though, they only cared about getting their hero back. As buses pulled in front of the hangar where the welcome home party was held, all the airmen looked the same in their camouflage military clothes.

But Adam Schoolcraft picked out his dad right away.

“Mom! I see him!” Adam said just before running to his dad along with his little brother.

“There he is!” Ashley responded.

There is nothing like being reunited with family to put a war behind you.

“Thank you, babe,” said Dale Schoolcraft to his wife after a kiss. “It is good to be home.”

Dale Schoolcraft reuniting with his family at the base

Dale Schoolcraft reunited with his family at the base. (Mark Less/KSL TV)

Seeing them back with their families made even the toughest airman smile.

“It is indescribable. I have waited for it pretty much since the day I left,” said Kyle Lind, who is with the 421st Fighter Wing.

One airman couldn’t believe how big his daughter grew in just a few short months.

“Sophia is a little over one now, so she’s walking. That’s a new trick that we have, so it’s great to see it,” said Captain Ryan Silva with the 421st Fighter Wing

For all these men and women, their next mission, “Operation Family,” begins.

“We are just going home to relax,” Ashley said. “I am sure he is tired. He has been up a long time, so just be together.”

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Hill Air Force Base Fighter Wings return from 3-month deployment to the Middle East