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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2005

Local fighter wing to ship out 200 for overseas duty

A private ceremony Monday will serve as an honorary send-off for hundreds of members of Toledo's local fighter wing.

Two hundred members of the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing will leave from their base adjacent to Toledo Express Airport Monday evening following the on-base ceremony, which is closed to all but family and close friends.

They will join an advance team of about 100 members of the 180th already stationed somewhere in Middle East.

The advance team left in several separate groups over the last several weeks.

Maj. Thomas Gee, spokesman for the 180th Fighter Wing, said only that the airmen would be "providing aerial support to military operations in the global war on terrorism throughout the central command region."

He said he could not discuss whether any of the unit's F-16 fighter jets would make the trip as well, though he said the members would be taking a commercial flight directly out of Toledo.

Maj. Gen. A.J. Feucht, assistant adjutant general for Air of the Ohio National Guard, and also a former wing commander of the 180th, said in a statement that "the men and women of this unit are fully trained and fully capable."

About 700 members of the fighter wing will remain at the base. Major Gee said the overseas squadron is expected to return sometime in the fall.

As for additional deployments, Major Gee said there is nothing expected at this point.

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