Maryland Soldiers Help Iraq Air Traffic

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As thousands of soldiers return home from Iraq, a group of Marylanders prepares to go back.

Mike Schuh reports, without these soldiers, military air traffic in Iraq would be chaotic.

At a restricted airfield under restricted skies, a unit of the Maryland National Guard goes through a final tune-up before going to Iraq.

Sergeant Andrew Scott say the soldiers set up the air traffic control tower at an airfield where they’ll be for a month or two.

Forty-seven soldiers are packing up their gear and heading to Iraq.

“We’re self-contained, we have power, radar, we can set up an airfield anywhere,” Scott said.

Some of the soldiers have been deployed overseas before. Scott directed traffic when the Pentagon was hit.

But for many, this is their first deployment.

Air Traffic Control specialist Kevin Hernan is from Lutherville. Soon he will work 12 hour shifts safely bringing home aircraft.

“You never want to spike the football too early, but when you’ve done your job to the best of your ability, it feels good,” Hernan said.

His co-worker, Specialist Frederick Williams, is from Baltimore City.

“Once over there, you have to hit the ground running,” Williams said.

Soon they will control everything in the sky at one of the busiest airports in Iraq.

These 47 soldiers will deploy in October from Edgewood at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Once that group leaves Maryland, they will spend a month at a base in the U.S. testing to prove they are ready to do their jobs.

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