Eglin AFB Unit Heads Back to Iraq

An air control unit from the northwest Florida Panhandle is returning to Iraq 14 months after completing a seven-month deployment there.

About 150 members of the 728th Air Control Squadron left Eglin Air Force Base this week for Iraq.

Most of about 130 troops who served at Baghdad International Airport in 2003 are part of the new deployment. They will be performing the same mission including controlling and radar monitoring of aircraft during combat, in-air refueling, reconnaissance and humanitarian flights.

During the first deployment, SSgt. Patrick Griffin, Jr. from Dryden, New York, died of shrapnel wounds in May 2003.

Meanwhile, a 728th Maintenance Officer, Maj. Gregory McMillion, is facing a general court martial in April on charges of illegally shipping AK-47 assault rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and other booty to Eglin in 2003.

The squadron directed a July 22, 2003 helicopter gunship attack in Mosul that resulted in the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai.