Tag Archives: deployment

Week in photos, Feb. 3, 2012

 U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules cargo aircraft By Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
U.S. Air Force Public Affairs

With a wing span a great as four F-16s the C-130 is a massive aircraft. To see such a huge piece of equipment take-off is a mesmerizing site. In this photo the Hercules soars above the cloud deck followed by the smoke of flares swirling in a frenzy of displaced air.

This photo says “The sky is the limit and the U.S. Air Force goes beyond that.” Whether we’re bringing troops and supplies into a hostile area or aid to a disaster torn nation, the Air Force gets the job done.

Jump on over to our Flickr site to see more examples of awesome airpower in our most recent Air Force Week in Photos set.

Photo: A U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules cargo aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, conducts flare training off the Ventura County coast Jan. 10, 2012. The flares are used as tactical infrared countermeasures to confuse and redirect heat-seeking missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Dave Buttner)

Strength, courage on the home front

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas BreamSgt Bream and the 387th ELRS
96th Logistics Readiness Squadron

I was afforded the opportunity to share a heartfelt story of my experience while I was deployed on convoy duty in Iraq. The Learning Channel (TLC) came to my house before I arrived home and recorded the strength and courage that it takes my wife Nicole and three children, Amanda, Joseph, and Jessi to carry on everyday life while I am deployed.

The Learning Channel wanted service members who were deployed and had a special family event they wanted to share. In my case, when I was deployed in 2008 on convoy duty, Nicole gave birth to my son Joseph in Germany with only her friends by her side as I was on mission and could not be there with her. It was almost six months before I got home and the only way Joseph knew me was through a webcam and the sound of my voice. But as soon as he saw me he knew exactly who I was. And then in March of 2011 she gave birth to my daughter Jessi while I was not due back for another six weeks. I sat back and thought to myself “Wow.” I can’t imagine what it must be like to do that by herself and still take care of our other children and attend college full time.

Amanda and Nicole enjoyed watching shows about military members reuniting with family members after a deployment. One evening Amanda asked me via webcam if “Mommy and Daddy could surprise her like that when I came home.” I was excited to be able to surprise her like she wanted and to be able to share it with other people. After a few months of going back and forth with ideas we finally decided that we would make the show about my daughter getting her Girl Scout “Strength and Courage” badge awarded. Amanda helped out Nicole in every way that a 6 year old could. Amanda stepped up to take my place helping around the house, picking up the living room and folding laundry.

From that point on I handed the planning over to Nicole and the Girl Scout leader Elizabeth to work with the production crew. They set it up to be recorded at my home in Florida during a Girl Scout meeting. They invited a local fire fighter to talk about how much strength and courage it takes to do his job. After talking about that for a few minutes he then moved to introduce me, saying how it took more strength and courage to do my job overseas in hostile environments.

They all worked it perfectly so that when I got home from the airport all I had to do was walk in the door and surprise Amanda and her Girl Scout troop. She had no idea I was coming home yet and she was in total shock that her dad was the one to award her this achievement. After I surprised Amanda, Nicole had a surprise for me — getting to see my daughter Jessi for the first time in person since she was born. Up until then I had only seen her via webcam and pictures Nicole sent me. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to finally hold her.

I have deployed two times, and both times they have been for more than six months. Every military member, myself included, has to be ready at a moment’s notice to pick up and go somewhere else for duty. Whether it is for one day or 12 months we are not the ones who have it hard. It’s the family and loved ones we leave behind who are expected to carry on daily life without us.

Photo: Airmen with the 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance flight deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation New Dawn from September 2010 to April 2011.

Deploy; and recharge your honor and service

By TSgt Kevin Nichols
3rd Combat Camera Squadron, Lackland AFB, Texas

Tech. Sgt. Kevin Nichols writes as a guest blogger from the perspective of a mentor speaking to a young airman who may be getting ready to deploy for the first time…

TSgt. Nichols writing a journal entry
You’ve heard stories from veterans. You’ve seen your brethren deploy and come back with stories of grandeur. Now—it’s your turn. Maybe you’ve never deployed before. It’s about to be an experience of a lifetime and one only the military can give you.

In all three of my deployments in the last five years (two to Iraq, one to Southwest Asia), each one has given me lasting memories of renewed honor and a true definition of why we signed “the bottom line.” It wasn’t for college, to leave town or to gain a girlfriend/boyfriend. These are simply the great benefits in exchange for your life to defend this nation “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Remember those words? They can be lost in the grime of everyday Air Force life for some.

My first deployment in 2006 took me to 14 Middle East locations throughout five countries. Stationed out of Balad, Iraq, I was part of a Combat News Team documenting and telling the Air Force story – how the Air Force is contributing to the fight. I went on a convoy with the last Air Force team that was there in lieu of a long-standing Army tasking when the Army was spread thin. It was not only a historic event, but it was also exhilarating to be on this mission — in a Humvee — traipsing through the Iraq countryside. In another convoy trip while I was documenting the oil pipeline refurbishment project Air Force teams were working on in Kirkuk, Iraq, another convoy could be seen and heard on the horizon by a plume of smoke…it had hit an improvised explosive device. It was just 20 minutes behind us and on the same road we just traveled down. Four Soldiers were killed. We honored them that night on the flightline as their caskets were loaded onto an aircraft bound for Dover, Del. It’s not my prettiest memory, but it brought the realness of the words “ultimate sacrifice” home for all of us that were out there with them that night. It was pouring down rain with gusts of 50 mile-per-hour winds as we stood firm at attention with our salute firmly pressed to our covers, not moving an inch as each casket passed before our eyes.

During my second tour in Iraq in 2008, I had the unique opportunity to be the voice of servicemen and women on the American Forces Network (AFN) Baghdad. The radio and television station served as a hub of information and stories of all services that not only was broadcast throughout Iraq, but through the Pentagon Channel and AFN stations throughout Europe. This was a unique time in history when Muqtada al-Sadr, a very influential religious and political figure in Iraq, launched a nationwide civil disobedience campaign across Iraq to protest raids and detentions against the Mahdi Army and called for attacks against Americans in order to encourage troops to leave Iraq. The camaraderie of our crew through this intense time will stand as a special moment and a lasting memory from this tour. It was the people I directly served with, some of whom I had also worked with in the past, that had a lasting impact on me. It takes huge dedication and talent to learn to work together and complete the mission during intense times. We also felt a huge sense of pride putting out stories of hard-working military teams throughout Iraq stomping out terrorism, helping villages and healing the sick and wounded during a critical time in history.

I recently returned from my third tour in December 2010 from Southwest Asia. I witnessed and publicized the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and welcomed in Operation New Dawn. I was a part of a reconnaissance mission that hit an 8,000 flight milestone and had been the “eyes and ears” over Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years. Most of all, I will always remember personally saluting and honoring 20 heroes who sacrificed their lives for our country. Folks, if participating in a human remains (HR) ceremony doesn’t tug at the heart strings or bring a tear to the eye, reminding us of the price we pay for the freedoms we fight for, you may be in the wrong profession. These ceremonies also bind us together as a nation as our heroes come home to Dover where families and loved ones wait for their husband, wife, mom, dad, brother, sister, etc.

We are left to continue their legacy, making sure their service wasn’t in vain. I’m sure the families who’ve lost someone won’t forget and neither will I. Sure, you’ll miss your family and friends, and they’ll miss you when you deploy. I have a lovely wife and two daughters that I can barely stand being away from for long periods at a time. But you’ll also gain experiences and a real sense of what’s happening in the Middle East or wherever you deploy. It may be something I didn’t really understand until I deployed for the first time. So, when you’re called to deploy, do what one of my deployed wing commanders used to say and “soak up the sun and sand, and serve honorably.”

Your stories will become legacies and your family will be proud to tell them for years to come – ones that generations will tell for many lifetimes.

Photo: I take time to write in my journal while I wait at a forward operating base (FOB) in Iraq for a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to pick us up and take us to our next assignment … or at least to the next FOB to hitch another ride to our next assignment. What am I writing about? How cool it’s going to be to ride in the Blackhawk helicopter that’s coming to pick us up! (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

Experiences on a Provincial Reconstruction Team

Admit it. You support us all the way, but some military terms might be difficult to understand and drive you crazy. I recently learned about another interesting activity in which servicemembers are involved, and it doesn’t seem complicated. I’d like to introduce you to something that is exactly what it sounds like—Provincial Reconstruction Teams.     

Capt. Tristan Hinderliter, Air Force public affairs officer, was deployed recently to eastern Afghanistan and has shared his experiences as a member of a PRT through a DODLive blog post this week. He is based out of Ramstein Air Base in Germany and was excited for this deployment opportunity. Here’s an excerpt from his blog post:     

Hinderliter in Afghanistan
Capt. Tristan Hinderliter, a public affairs officer with the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, hands out pens to Afghan children during a mission with PRT Civil Engineers to evaluate progress and conduct quality assessments, Aug. 2, 2010. (Photo by Bill Neimes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

 I’ve been serving as the public affairs officer for PRT-Laghman for about a month now, and already I’ve had a handful of interesting experiences, from doing dismounted patrols outside the wire, to talking to Afghan children and meeting with Afghan officials. I suspect many people, even in the military, may not be familiar with the concept of PRTs and what they do. I’d like to share a little about what PRTs are and my experience so far at PRT-Laghman.     

The U.S. government created the first PRTs in Afghanistan in late 2002 in an effort to extend the authority of the Afghan central government, improve security, and promote reconstruction. Today there are 27 PRTs under NATO/ISAF command, 13 of which are led or jointly led by U.S. forces.     

If you’re interested in learning more about PRTs, see Capt. Hinderliter’s full blog post on DODLive, and check out the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team page on Facebook.

Blog Spotlight: Boots in the Doorway

*Occasionally, Air Force Live puts the spotlight on individual blogs written by Airmen or their family members. These blogs provide an unofficial glimpse into the various aspects of Air Force life. Opinions expressed are those of the bloggers and are not endorsed by the US Air Force.

For Cheryl, home is wherever the Air Force sends her and her family.

So far, the California-native has lived in Mississippi, Kansas, Texas, Florida and Arizona, all in support of her active-duty Air Force husband, who is currently deployed for eight months. As a stay-at-home mother of two children, she shares her experiences in her blog, Boots in the Doorway, writing candidly about the ups and downs of life during a deployment.

“The airport allows military families  to go to the gate so that they can spend a little more time together which we were very thankful for,” she wrote of sending her husband off on his deployment. “On our way 2 different people stopped Chris to thank him for his service. I always get choked up when that happens because it means so much to hear that from people. It reminds me how proud and special all our military are and that our journeys tend to be a little different then civilians in so many ways that can’t be explained.”

Since then, she’s shared everything from class field trips with her daughter to preparing care packages for her husband, all while reflecting on what it means to serve from the homefront when it literally feels like half her heart is in Iraq. 

“I never know what is going to spark that emotion in me that can break me down in a instant,” she wrote recently. “Sometimes its driving by his work or seeing his uniform hanging in the closet, finding his favorite hot sauce hidden in the fridge, his razors in the cabinet or that song you hear on the radio.”

Recently, Cheryl got a happy distraction via a spouse incentive flight at her base on a KC-135 Stratotanker, where the ladies got to watch an F-15 refuel in the air. She was able to take photos and a short video clip of the flight for her blog.

“We took turns taking tons of pictures and watching the action,” she wrote. “I HIGHLY suggest you take the opportunity if it comes available to go on a spouse flight. They were happy to do it since they want the spouses to be excited about the Air Force so we encourage our hubby’s to stay active.”

To read more about Cheryl’s experience as the Air Force wife of a deployed Airman, visit Boots in the Doorway.