Local Airmen deploy to Turkey Published May 20, 2009 By 127th Public Affairs Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. -- More than 100 Airmen of the 127th Air Refueling Group have left Selfridge Air National Guard Base in the last month to serve on a deployment to the Middle East. The Michigan Air National Guardsmen plus a handful of KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft will be stationed in Turkey through the summer where they will fly missions throughout U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. Many of the Airmen will not serve the entire deployment length, instead splitting the service time with other members of the 127th Wing. "Our ability to have volunteers cover these deployments in short spurts rather than serving a lengthy time away from home alleviates a lot of extra stressors on our deploying Airman," says Col. Michael Thomas, 127th Air Refueling Group commander. Shorter deployments enable Airmen in the Guard to quickly return to their civilian lives, an important consideration and sometimes worry for both local employers and citizen-Airmen. The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. This unique asset enhances the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary missions of Global Reach and Global Power. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. Commander of the 171st Air Refueling Squadron, Lt. Col. David Brooks, remarked that in the first 4 days of their deployment, "we have off-loaded over 4.4 million pounds of fuel. Every gallon we off-load is one that doesn't travel over land inside the combat zone. We are making an enormous impact each and every time a tanker takes to the air." The Selfridge unit has been flying the aircraft for only a year since converting to the jet from the C-130 Hercules.