A squadron from the Oklahoma Air National Guard has deployed for a support mission in Japan.
They're flew out Thursday morning from the Tulsa base to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.
It's the first time they've ever done a deployment like this, and they gave News On 6 exclusive access as they said their goodbyes, received handshakes from superiors and boarded for the other side of the world.
More than 200 members of the 138th Fighter Wing left Tulsa at about 8 a.m.
It's a big operation to get everyone, and all their supplies and equipment, to Japan. Cargo jets are transporting all their equipment and most of the Guardsmen will fly to Japan in a Boeing 757.
The wing is also taking a dozen F-16s, which will have to refuel in mid-air up to nine times on the way.
In a news release, the Oklahoma Air National Guard said the deployment is in support of the U.S. Pacific Command Theater Security Package. It's designed to provide the U.S. Pacific Command with forces capable of a variety of operations, including disaster relief, global situational awareness, combating piracy, active defense and power projection, according to the release.
The U.S. Air Force routinely deploys force packages of fighters throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region to Guam, Japan and the Republic of Korea to help maintain a deterrent against threats to regional security and stability, the release said.
Movement of U.S. Air Force Theater Security Packages into the region has been a routine and integral part of U.S. Pacific Command's force posture since March 2004, according to the release.
The Oklahoma Air National Guard is not saying how long the deployment will last.