WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Fourty members of the 104th Fighter Wing from Barnes Air National Guard Base landed safely in Westfield Tuesday night. The crew was in Malaysia for three weeks as part of “Cope Taufan 14”, a multi-national training exercise with US allies.
“As a fighter group goes it’s really using our jets and comparing ours to theirs. seeing their strengths and weaknesses and them seeing our strengths and weaknesses. It was eye opening,” said Captain Trey Benedict, of the 104th Fighter Wing.
The 104th fighter wing is a trained combat unit that, when needed, can support the U.S. Air Force during wartime, and protect the Northeast sector.
The training in Malaysia wasn’t just tough for the wing members but for their families, who were left here in western Massachusetts, waiting for their return. However, family members told 22News the struggle and the sacrifice are worth it, seeing their children prepare to defend our country.
Family members say it’s hard put into words the overwhelming feelings of seeing their loved one’s faces for the first time since they deployed.
“Seeing him in that exact moment and realizing that they’re right there. That’s the best feeling and it’s totally indescribable,” said Molly Blake, whose brother was training in Malaysia.
Other members of the fighter wing will be returning to Barnes throughout the week, so residents in the Westfield area can expect an increase in air activity.