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Wing deploys to Southwest Asia

May 3, 2009 -- More than 80 members of the 108th Air Refueling Wing left this week for a deployment to Southwest Asia. They are the first half of the deployers who will be spending two months on a refueling mission there.
Wing members from maintenance, flight records, operations, aircraft flight equipment and administration, along with others, will be integrating with the active duty to create a total force said Lt. Col. Martin Ryan who will be working as the Director of Operations when he reaches the deployment station.
"We will be seaming right into what they are already doing," he said. "I am looking forward to getting the mission done."
As the Airmen prepared for the deployment, one place they stopped was the Logistical Readiness Squadron, for a small issue - filters for their protective mask, insecticide for their uniforms, ballistic goggles and tan web gear. Senior Master Sgt. Darlene Bouffard, materiel management specialist, said that the war bags were already in theater, thereby reducing the amount of items and time the Airmen spent processing through the line and baggage to handle.
Another check on the list for deployment was weapons qualification. Saturday of April drill found a group of Airmen gathered in a classroom in LRS learning the intricacies of the M16A2.
Tech. Sgt. Maurice Nelson, from 108th Security Forces, explained how each part worked as the weapon fires and how it should perform for the individual - the seesaw motion of the extractor, alignment of the rings on the bolt, how to load a magazine, clear the rifle when coming off duty and cleaning tips.
The other three instructors, Staff Sgts. Agustin Alvarado and John Wasley, both security force personnel with the 108th Contingency Response Group and Senior Airman Diorca Hernandez, of the 108th SF, floated around the room, helping the Airmen when they had problems.
Monday evening, the Airmen reported to the wing one final time before the KC-135R's transported them off to their new home for the next month.
Tech. Sgt. James Giquinto of Mount Holly has been on a number of other deployments. "I've been to Oman; Istres, France; Oslo, Norway; Adana, Turkey; and Geilenkirchen, Germany," the engine mechanic said.
Why does he go on these deployments? "It's my call of duty," he replied. "The deployments are educational and I get strength, wisdom, self-satisfaction and some character building from them."
The 21-year veteran of the 108th said his wife is very supportive of his career. Giquinto is employed as a production specialist at the Defense Support Center in Philadelphia.
Senior Airman Omar Holt admitted to some nervousness on his first deployment. Most of that, he said, was due to leaving his family behind. But he and his wife had made arrangements for help so she could handle her part-time job and their two young sons during his absence.
Holt, who is part of the Hydraulics shop, works as a locomotive engineer for New Jersey Transit when not wearing his military uniform.
The Milltown resident was looking forward to getting experience in his craft during his time overseas.
There will be a swap out half-way through the two-month deployment with another group of Airmen going over in about a month.