News: Ellsworth Airmen provide security in Iraq
Capt. Michael G. Johnson
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/6/2006 - CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AFPN) -- Security forces from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., are serving in southern Iraq this winter.
Twenty-four of the more than 300 Airmen who make up the 586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron are from the 28th Security Forces Squadron at Ellsworth. They provide base, convoy and area security here -- home to the largest theater internment facility in Iraq.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Taylor, the 586th's flight sergeant, is the senior ranking member of the Ellsworth team here. The sergeant is in charge of the mobile patrols for the base.
"The threat is here pretty much every day," he said. "[Here] we have more of a chance to experience the air base defense part of our job."
Most of the Airmen spend one or two months training at a stateside Army post before their six-month deployment. Once they arrive, they are assigned to one of many security positions, filling roles that traditionally were handled by Soldiers, the sergeant said.
His mood shifted quickly when he talked about home.
"I miss a lot of stuff â?¦ friends, family, everything," he said. The Airmen spend a lot of time training, going to the gym and studying to combat homesickness. So far the Airmen have stayed busy and are enjoying their experience."
Armorer Staff Sgt. Dale Brown said, "We get to work on a lot of weapons we don't normally get to see; that's been a lot of fun and a good experience. It is different from what I'm used to; it's been good so far. I'm learning a lot."
The biggest challenge for an armorer in the desert is keeping weapons clean.
"I encourage people to put a rag in the magazine well and keep the dust cover closed," Sergeant Brown said. "Maintenance is the key to preventing dust from getting inside the weapon."
There are other differences between work at home station and work at this desert base.
"[One big difference is] just knowing you have the freedom to sit on your porch and not worry about a thing [back home]. Here you have to be alert 24-7," gunner Airman Jason Taylor said.
Airman 1st Class Lucas King, an entry controller, agreed.
"Back home you're just doing local law enforcement. Over here it's different, the threat is higher, [there's a] greater chance of being attacked," Airman King said. "I appreciate being over here and getting the experience. Me being over here means somebody else can go home. If somebody else can go home, that's a good thing."
Airman Taylor saw the threat first-hand while working in a tower during a rocket attack.
"[After the attack] our lieutenant asked if I was shaken up. I said no, it didn't hit me," Airman Taylor said. "I'm proud to serve. When I first got to Ellsworth they said we're one of the most deployed security forces units in Air Combat Command. I was already prepared knowing I"d be deployed."
That's a feeling shared by all the Airmen, Sergeant Brown said.
"I wanted to come here. I volunteered. I wanted to serve my country and help out here in Iraq anyway I could. I believe in what we're doing here," Sergeant Brown said.