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franklin county times

Guardsmen play important roles

By Staff
MILITARY DUTY – Master Sgt. Bill Koch, left, and Lt. Col. Twayne Mobley pose for a photo. Both Koch and Mobley spent July away from their families; both could serve abroad again soon. Mobley returned home Aug. 5, from Frankfurt, Germany, while Koch returned Aug. 1 from an undisclosed location in South America. Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star
August 23, 2004
By Kyle Carter / staff writer
Master Sgt. Bill Koch arrived late at church earlier this month with his son, Michael, hanging on his neck and wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans similar to his own.
Michael also pointed and told many churchgoers that his daddy was finally home.
Koch had spent all of July on a classified mission in South America for the 150th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron of the Mississippi National Guard in conjunction with Operation Enduring Freedom.
Lt. Col. Twayne Mobley also spent July away from his family. He was in charge of refueling missions for the 385th Air Expeditionary Group in Turkey and Germany also in conjunction with Operation Enduring Freedom.
In fact, the airlift operation into Afghanistan is the third largest effort of its kind behind the Berlin Airlift and Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Military work
Koch and Mobley are two of hundreds of National Guardsmen from East Mississippi and across the state who have left family and friends to play their part in ongoing fighting in Iraq.
Some have public assignments; others are more secretive.
Koch was one of 18 members of the 186th Air Refueling Wing who supported the 150th squadron during the summer while also supporting U.S. Department of Defense objectives in South America.
The unit was comprised of National Guardsmen, Air Force Reservists and active duty personnel from 10 states.
Personnel from the 186th ARW provided support to the squadron command element, aircrew members, aircraft avionics, aircrew life support and force protection personnel.
Mobley said his mission took him to a specific location that is well known.
Mobley was stationed at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and the Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany, where he was in charge of the logistics of moving men, planes and fuel throughout the region.
Mobley's mission
Along with 115 other members of the 186th, Mobley's main mission was refueling Air Force C-17s.
Mobley, who has already left home again since returning from Turkey, said he currently has no plans to leave the country on another mission. He returned last week from a contemporary base issues course in Oregon.
Mobley's wife, Jeri, went on her own mission. Jeri Mobley went to Florida with the American Red Cross, helping victims of Hurricane Charley put their lives back together.
Koch said that his unit does, "have an exercise coming up. It is going to be in the next months somewhere in Southwest Asia." He could give no more details.
Koch said that it is still too early for him to know whether he will be deployed with that mission or not.
If he is, Koch's son Michael, who recently started kindergarten, may start watching the skies.
Said Koch: "A couple weeks before I came home, Michael told (my wife) April that he wished that the plane could just fly over and drop me out and I could parachute home."

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