NJ Guard Crews to Rotate in Libya Operation

Another crew is heading out to assist in the military operation.

By Brian Thompson
|  Friday, Apr 15, 2011  |  Updated 6:52 AM EDT
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A Libyan man waves an American flag to indicate his support for the western air campaign.

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The first rotation of New Jersey Air Guardsmen helping the military operation in Libya is taking place this week.

A New Jersey National Guard KC-135 refueling tanker took off from McGuire Air Force Base in southern Jersey on Thursday, headed for a NATO base in the Mediterranean Sea to continue assistance in "Operation: Odyssey Dawn."

On Friday, the first guard tanker to support the fighter bombers in the NATO-led campaign in Libya is expected to land at McGuire with its crew of nine.

The New Jersey Air National Guard was first called to the Mediterranean nearly four weeks ago on the eve of the first air strikes on Libya by the French and British.

A release from the guard detailed for the first time that the units "support coalition aircraft conducting sequenced bombing strikes" in the skies over Libya.

The state's National Guard says its operation includes protecting civilians and will also "enforce a no-fly zone and prevent the government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi from removing rebel fighters from their stronghold in Benghazi."

The nine airmen come from Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington and Gloucester counties in New Jersey.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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