08/29/07 — SJAFB airmen deploy today

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SJAFB airmen deploy today

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 29, 2007 1:45 PM

Pamela Berg is going to miss "feeling like a woman" for the next few months.

There is no place for makeup or civilian clothing in the desert, the 20-year-old said.

"I'll miss the freedom to be a woman," the airman first class said. "Over there, you have to be real careful."

Ms. Berg was one of more than 100 from the Fourth Fighter Wing gearing up for war this morning on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as more than 600 are expected to deploy over the next few weeks in support of the global war on terror.

Each has something they will "hate" to leave behind -- family members, friends, the ease of communicating via e-mail and cellular phone.

But there are only two things 21-year-old Cody Brown will truly long for from his base in Southwest Asia.

"My bed and Taco Bell," the airman first class said.

Those who walked through the deployment processing line this morning said they understand the dangers war can bring.

Still, a sense of excitement could be felt with every smile and joke shared between comrades.

"I'm pretty excited right now about the new things I'm going to encounter," Brown said. "And it will be good actually being able to participate in the global war on terror."

Members of the wing leadership were on hand, too -- building confidence with talk of the 4th's air dominance.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Layton Clark said he has seen it firsthand on the front lines.

"It's a warrior wing -- everybody knows it," he said. "We truly are the air power of the people."

But he added he knows full well that all who deploy face tough times ahead.

"As soon as those aircraft wheels are up, they are on a combat mission," he said.

Vice Commander Col. Daniel DeBree agrees.

He said he feels "very confident" that the men and women of the 4th know what's at stake -- and how to endure the next four to six months.

"This struggle is something that's a long-term struggle," DeBree said. "I think there is a little bit of nervousness, but they are prepared and ready to go."

And he, too, is prepared -- to "support them from afar" and "take care of their families" -- until he joins them on the front lines next month.

The Air Force has been continuously engaged in combat operations for the last 16 years and officials estimate roughly 33,000 airmen are currently deployed across the globe.

DeBree said their newest cause is a worthy one.

Berg agrees.

"I knew I was (going to deploy) when I came to this base," she said. "I'm ready."