National Guard engineering squadron returns home

Monday, March 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Nine members of the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron came home Monday after five months in Turkey. News on 6 reporter Rick Wells was at Tulsa International Airport when they returned Monday morning.

Kathy Keating:” It is one happy happy wonderful day." A happy day because her son Matthew is coming home from Turkey and a year of active duty with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

He was the first one off the plane and his mother was the first to grab him. The nine man team is from the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron based here in Tulsa. They've been in Turkey since November upgrading communications facilities at the Incirlik Air Base. Incirlik is home to the planes patrolling the northern ‘no-fly zone’ over Iraq.

Matthew’s father, Dan Keating: "Until this war happened I didn't really know my geography. But Turkey borders Syria, Iran Iraq and Russia." He realized his son was within Iraqi missile range. Matthew Keating: "Yes we were, and we watched all the news reports and knew that such a thing could happen. And there was one day we had to carry our chemical suits with us at all times."

Team leader Master Sergeant Dean Trone said the secret to getting through the increased tension was the work. "We concentrated on our work and let everybody else take care of protecting us." The unit installs and upgrades communications gear at air bases around the world, and they are busier than ever since 9-11.

Lt Col Greg Duke: "We're doing more of it now and trying to get things done more quickly than we did in the past." Each of this nine member team agreed the best day of past five months was Monday.

If the Keating family looks familiar, perhaps they should. Matthew Keating is former Governor Frank Keating's nephew.