05/15/06 — Called to duty: today's contingent of Seymour Johnson airmen part of 700 being deployed

View Archive

Called to duty: today's contingent of Seymour Johnson airmen part of 700 being deployed

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 15, 2006 1:49 PM

A contingent of airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base prepared today for deployment to Southwest Asia.

About 700 airmen will be deployed over the next few days and weeks as part of the base's regular rotating routine, officials said.

Groups of airmen went through last-minute briefings this morning at the base's Personnel Deployment Facility.

Some will leave directly from Seymour Johnson. Others will fly out of Pope AFB or other nearby installations.

For some, it will be their first deployment. For others, it will be the second, third or even fourth time overseas.

Most airmen got a chance over the weekend to say good-bye to family and friends, before leaving for 4-6 months.

Sgt. Carlos Sanchez and his wife are both being deployed. Sanchez said the couple's son will be staying with grandparents while they are deployed.

"I've been making sure I have everything taken care of before I leave," he said. "Once I get there, I'll count down the days and look forward to coming home."

Staff Sgt. Ronald Collins has been deployed several times. He said that no matter how many times he goes overseas, it is a new experience.

"It's a little different every time," he said. "But I'm ready. It's part of my job.

Collins said he had a chance Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day with his wife and children.

"I took the wife and kids out, had a nice dinner," he said.

For Airman 1st Class Jay Diegmiller, it will be the first deployment.

Diegmiller said his family is coming down from Ohio to see him off. His mother will arrive Tuesday for good-byes.

"I'm just going with the flow," he said as airmen went through the processing line.

Master Sgt. Michael Russell is charged with helping airmen prepare for deployment.

"We put them through scenarios of the kind of environment they'll be operating in," he said this morning. "It's not the worst possible environment. There are different sights, sounds, smells. We teach them to operate with a sense of urgency."

Enemy tactics change, he said, and with information gleaned from the battlefield, new arrivals are brought up to date on the latest in security needs.

"We make sure they have the right frame of mind," Russell said, "transitioning from a peacetime mission to a wartime mission.

"My job is to provide them with an updated version of what they are getting into," he said.

The contingent includes pilots, security forces and maintenance and support crews.

"Everything needed to support a base here, they need over there," said Sgt. Angela Shepherd of the base's public affairs office.