While the US Army ordered its Louisiana-based troops to stay and fight in Iraq, the Air Force said today it would send 300 airmen home from Iraq and Afghanistan to handle emergencies on a Mississippi air base devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
The airmen, all based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, will start flying home during the next two weeks, said Air Force Capt. David Small, spokesman for US Central Command Air Forces in Qatar.
Nearly 100 more airmen scheduled to leave Keesler for war duty will also stay behind, said Brigadier General Allen G. Peck, the deputy commander of coalition air forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres.
“While our focus remains on fighting the war on terrorism, taking care of people is a top priority,” Peck said in a prepared statement. “They can’t effectively perform the mission if their heads and hearts are focused on the safety and welfare of their loved ones.”