News: Congressional Delegation visits Air National Guardsmen
Story by Master Sgt. Cohen Young
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan - A Congressional delegation visited May 12, 2014 to check on the welfare of hometown constituents, Afghan election results and concerns of women in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The delegation comprised of U. S. Reps. Martha Roby (Ala.), House of Appropriations Committee; Susan Davis (Calif.), House of Armed Services Committee; Niki Tsongas (Mass.), House of Armed Services Committee; Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Energy & Commerce Committee; Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Agriculture; Transportation & Infrastructure; Ms. Debra Wada, professional staff member; Ms. Jaime Cheshire, professional staff member and Maj. Janine Garner, U. S. Marine Corps service escort visited members of the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard currently deployed to Bagram Airfield in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Roby had visited the 187th before they left Alabama and now she was in Afghanistan visiting them.
“I was there when the 187th deployed a couple weeks ago,” said Roby. “It’s really awesome to be here in Afghanistan with them to celebrate Mother’s Day and to offer a bit of encouragement to the men and women of the 187th.”
Lt. Col Ryan Barker, 100th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander and Maj. Adrian Meyer, 455th EAMXS commander briefed the delegation on the current climate of the ANG along with the mission and challenges at Bagram.
“It’s a very important mission and one that I know they don’t take lightly,” said Roby. “They are executing in a great way and we are very proud of the job this unit is doing. We know they are going to be successful here with the mission that they have been given.”
It meant a lot to unit members to receive a visit from their own state representative.
“It’s great to know that our representatives are thinking about us and are very much aware of our deployed status,” said U. S. Air Force Lt. Col Ryan Barker, a resident of Montgomery. “It means a lot to us that they took time out of a busy international schedule to stop in and check on us.
The congresswomen also stopped in Kabul for a few meetings, but the highlight of the trip was arriving within a day of Mother’s Day and having an opportunity to meet with deployed mothers from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
“As a mom, to get the chance to be with our men and women in uniform on Mother’s Day is quite meaningful,” said Roby. Those of us in congress get on planes and travel back and forth away from our families, but it really puts into perspective when we’re spending time with our men and women in uniform that are away from their children for six and in some cases nine months to a year. I thank all of our men and women for their sacrifices all around the world and keeping us safe at home.”
Unit members were happy that the Congresswomen visited, and happy to speak with the delegation about Operation Enduring Freedom and the treatment of Afghan women.
“I applauded Representative Roy for understanding of the Afghanistan culture and supporting Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Tech Sgt. Calnecia Gregg, a native of Montgomery, Ala., and currently assigned to the 455th EAMXS. “I look forward to working with her concerning Alabama education.”
The highlight of the visit occurred when the Representatives learned it was one mother’s birthday. Ellmers and Roby hugged U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cynthia Jackson, maintenance supply NCOIC and a resident of Montgomery, Ala., as the entire room sang, “Happy Birthday” to her and she instantly broke into tears of joy.
“It was really cool for the congresswomen to sing happy birthday to me,” said Jackson. “It was the highlight of my day.”
“Congresswoman Roby is a great American,” added Barker. “Very engaging and all of the folks from Alabama took a lot of personal pride in knowing that she has us in the crosscheck, and that she has out best interest in mind.”
Date Posted:05.17.2014 04:49
Location:BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF
Hometown:DRACUT, MA, US
Hometown:FAYETTEVILLE, NC, US
Hometown:MONTGOMERY, AL, US
Hometown:SAN DIEGO, CA, US
Hometown:SPRINGFIELD, IL, US