News: Bluffton native deploys, keeps Bagram safe
Story by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Airman 1st Class Tabetha Clark, a .50-caliber machine gun gunner and driver with the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, recently deployed from the 4th SFS, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
Clark, a Bluffton, Ohio native, deployed to work with an elite group of security forces airmen with the 455th ESFS, a quick reaction team known as the “Reapers.”
Several times a week, Clark and members of her team travel outside the wire to deter terrorist activity and build working relationships with the local populace.
“Our mission is to defend the airfield outside the wire through early detection, deterrence, response, reconnaissance and counter insurgency,” said Master Sgt. Troy Taylor, NCO in charge for the Reapers. “To complete these missions, Reaper teams are comprised of dismounted patrol members, counter sniper teams and surveillance teams that have access to unmanned air assets.”
As a gunner, it’s Clark’s responsibility to man a .50-caliber machine gun and stay vigilant as her team travels through dangerous environments and dismounts in local villages.
“My favorite thing about the mission we do here is the counter insurgency mission,” said Clark. “We go outside the wire and meet the locals and interact with the children. We have the opportunity to pass out clothes, boots and much-needed items to the people in the villages. I like that we get to show them that we are here to help not harm.”
This is Clark’s first deployment and she has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for almost two years.
“I love what I do,” she said. “It’s hard and stressful at times, but I truly enjoy it.”