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Deploying Airmen wait in Italy through six-day layover

Staff Sgt. James Ward rests at Hangar One while waiting for transportation to a forward-operating location in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Jan. 18 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Sergeant Ward is assigned to the 15th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Amy Velasquez)

Staff Sgt. James Ward rests at Hangar One while waiting for transportation to a forward-operating location in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Jan. 18 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Sergeant Ward is assigned to the 15th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Amy Velasquez)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (AFNEWS) -- Airmen deploying to operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom had an Italian holiday of sorts in late January at Aviano AB.

Active duty and Reserve Airmen coming from such places as Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England; Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; made a refueling stop at Aviano AB that turned out to be a little longer than a "gas and go."

Their six-day layover was due to their transportation down range being delayed by weather. Airmen deploying they experienced how 31st Fighter Wing members take care of other Airmen.

"It's been great. The support we've gotten from Aviano has been fantastic," said Lt. Col. Gary Slack, chief of safety at RAF Mildenhall. "They've been finding us a place to stay, taking us out to a barbecue, helping out a lot and just making sure we're OK."

"People are getting a little restless because they're away from home, and they're anxious to get on with the business they left home to do. There's a building restlessness among the group," said Col. Douglas McHugh, the deploying forces commander.

Although the layover was unexpected, Colonel McHugh said it gave the Airmen a chance to rest and get prepared to serve on the frontlines of the war on terrorism.

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