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UPDATED: Colorado Air National Guard Citizen-Airmen and fighter jets return from historic deployment to Brazil 
By: Air Force Maj Elena O’Bryan 
Multinational aircraft participate in the Southern Cross Exercise over the coast of Brazil. (Official U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer, 140th Wing Public Affairs/RELEASED)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (11/19/10) –The Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing has more than 100 Citizen-Airmen and six F-16 Fighting Falcons deployed to Natal Air Base, Brazil, as the first United States military unit to participate in the Cruzeiro Do Sul (Southern Cross) exercise (CRUZEX V). 

Personnel are due to return Nov. 20 to Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., with the jets returning to base Nov. 21. 

Pilots and maintainers departed Nov. 6. 

CRUZEX V is a multi-national combined exercise, with Brazil in the lead.  Participants include the Arizona Air National Guard and the air forces of Brazil, Chile, France, Uruguay, and the United States as well as observers from numerous other countries and more than 82 aircraft and almost 3,000 Airmen.  

Airmen from across the Americas are working together in the sky above Brazil’s forests, as well as on the ground during community relations events in which they’re showcasing their aircraft to local leaders and meeting with local children. 

Ties between the Brazilian and U.S. Air Forces date back to World War II when the U.S. helped build Natal AB as a staging location to ferry bombers across the Atlantic to Africa and then onto Europe. Brazil was a strong ally to the U.S. during that war with Brazilian pilots flying P-47 Thunderbolts alongside American pilots in the Mediterranean theatre. 

According to U.S. Twelfth Air Force officials, CRUZEX V illustrates our nation’s commitment to work with regional partners in ways that strengthen friendships, bolster partner nation capacity, expand cooperation between Airmen and enhance regional security. 

“This exercise is about partnership building,” said Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre, commander of the 140th Wing and exercise co-director. “A unique aspect of the Air National Guard is that we have partnerships all around the world in addition to our Colorado communities.”

“The Colorado Air National Guard’s involvement in this historic deployment is an absolutely fascinating opportunity to expand our horizons a little bit beyond our partners of Slovenia and Jordan,” said Eyre.

Under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, the Colorado National Guard has partnered with the Republic of Slovenia for 17 years and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for seven years to promote regional peace, scientific advancement, and trade opportunities.

Eyre said the deployment is an opportunity for Colorado Citizen-Airmen to meet other Airmen from around the world to exchange ideas.  These personal contacts are invaluable, he said.

“The host-nation hospitality has been wonderful,” he said. “We appreciate being asked to participate in this exercise and we would very much like to participate in future exercises.”

For more than 150 years the Colorado National Guard has served communities across Colorado while defending our nation. The Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen of the Colorado National Guard are always ready, always there.

News media representatives interested in covering the return of the jets should contact Maj O’Bryan as soon as possible.  News media representatives should arrive at the Mississippi Gate at Buckley Air Force Base no later than 12 p.m. Nov. 21 to film the jets taxiing.  Returning pilots will be available for interviews on the flight line.

For more information about CRUZEX V: