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    DC Air National Guard airmen depart for deployment



    Story by Capt. Renee Lee 

    113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard

    JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Nearly 30 airmen of the 113th Security Forces Squadron departed for a five-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia Feb. 15.

    While deployments are certainly not unusual, what makes this one unique is the range in experience shared among the airmen. In fact, this deployment will be the first for more than 10 of the security forces airmen of the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing.

    “I’m very excited for my first deployment,” said Senior Airman Cordero Santiago. “I volunteered to deploy because I wanted the experience and I feel prepared.”

    Santiago credits his confidence in his preparation for this deployment to his time spent at the intensive two-week Regional Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where training included small group tactics, weapons sustainment and mounted operations.

    “I learned how to dismount and patrol and a lot of land navigation,” said the RTC outstanding performer. “[The training] teaches you how to do your jobs in different situations we might encounter.”

    Like Santiago, many of the newer airmen have since gained confidence and a better understanding of what to expect of the deployment, said Tech. Sgt. Jose Perez, one of the two squad leaders of the deploying unit. And thanks to deployment veterans like Perez, for whom this will be his sixth deployment, the newer airmen are in good hands and have the opportunity to seek mentorship and advice from those who have deployed on numerous occasions such as Senior Airman Ashli McEntee.

    Since joining the Air Force eight years ago on active duty, McEntee has deployed seven times. This deployment with the 113th SFS will be her eighth total deployment and her second since joining the DCANG. While preparing for deployment here and at Eglin AFB, she also found herself in a mentoring position to the younger and newer airmen for whom this will be their first time “down range.”

    “The newer airmen have been coming to us and asking about the living conditions, the weather, the gear, the schedule, how we work as teams, the hours we work,” McEntee said. “As we have a large amount of first timers deploying with us, I think we can offer comfort and knowledge.”

    As many members of the Reserve and National Guard experience, it is not uncommon to see fellow airmen and colleagues on usually a monthly basis; deployments offer opportunities, however, to build stronger camaraderie and unit cohesion. After preparing for deployment here and training together at Eglin AFB, the 113th SFS airmen will work side-by-side during their five months overseas, and “we’ll end up having that bond together,” said Perez.

    When the unit returns home in the late summer, the 113th Wing will welcome a team of deployment veterans, including those airmen ready to help the next generation of first-time deployers.



    Date Taken: 02.15.2014
    Date Posted: 02.21.2014 15:23
    Story ID: 120981

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