Safe homecoming for U.S. pilots

WREATHED in smiles, exchanging hugs and kisses, the families of 12 American pilots celebrated their safe return from a peacekeeping mission in Iraq.Their wives said it has been hard sitting at home missing them while the airmen from RAF Lakenheath were in central Asia for three months.

WREATHED in smiles, exchanging hugs and kisses, the families of 12 American pilots celebrated their safe return from a peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

Their wives said it has been hard sitting at home missing them while the airmen from RAF Lakenheath were in central Asia for three months.

Almost 30 wives and children were on the Tarmac yesterday waiting for the F-15E fighter jets to land after the combat deployment and cheered as they looped over the air base.

Kelly Dinenna, wife of commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Dinenna, said: “He had just got back in December and then left on this one at the beginning of March.


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“It is hard being married to the commanding officer with him gone so much, but I've been taking care of others and doing what I can to help out.”

Also eagerly awaiting the safe arrival of her loved one was Bethany Bush, who married Captain Richard Bush just four months ago, and Elliana Beatty, two, who has been desperately missing her father, Captain John Beatty.

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Her mum Darci said: “This is the first time he has been away for a combat deployment. Elliana has learned so much since he left and can't wait to show him what she can do.

“I've been telling her that daddy is at work, then she would say she wants to go to work to see him.

“And I put jellybeans in a jar and I gave her one for each day he was away. I'd catch her eating them all so he'd come back sooner.”

Lt Col Dinenna, 492nd squadron leader who led the deployment, said it had been intensive flying 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We were supporting U.S. coalition forces on the ground and in theatre. We answered calls for air support and did armed recognisance,” he added.

“What kept it all in perspective was that we were saving lives. We made sure things were 100% perfect. We saw what was going on with ground forces when their convoys were under attack and that's when they really needed us.”

But Lt Col Dinenna said it was great to be home and his next mission was to take a few weeks off to spend time with his wife.

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