NJ Airmen to Deploy to Centcom in Support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom's Sentinel
By Tech. Sgt. Armando Vasquez, 108th Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published June 02, 2015
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- -- Approximately 50 Airmen from the 108th Wing departed aboard several of their KC-135 Stratotankers June 2 here.
In total, more than 140 Airmen mostly from Burlington, Mercer, Ocean, and Union counties, as well Bucks county Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, N.Y., will rotate in and out of the CENTCOM area of operations over the next couple of months, ensuring mission readiness and a successful completion of their tour in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom's Sentinel.
The deployment, which is the largest aircraft tasking for the Wing since 9/11, will consist of aircrews, maintenance and logistics support personnel who will provide support with mid-air refueling missions, aircraft maintenance, and logistics operations.
"This is what it's all about," said Col. Robert A. Meyer, Jr., 108th Wing commander. "All of your hard work, training, long hours in your shops, and weekends away from your family is what has prepared you for this mission."
For Senior Airman David Abreu, who has a goal of becoming a fireman in his hometown, the opportunity to deploy will help his goal.
"There are a couple of emotions going through me," said Abreu, a Union county resident. "I'm excited, scared, but I'm also ready to fulfill my obligation and earn my veteran's status, which will help me with my goal of becoming a fireman."
For Staff Sgt. Michael Escott this deployment is another mission to add to his already distinguished military career. The Ocean county resident deployed to Dubai and Kuwait as a Sailor with the Navy. After more than eight years in the Navy Reserves, his unit was moved to another area too far to commute, allowing Escott to bring his skills to the 108th Wing over a year ago. His experience as a policeman in Northern New Jersey and in the Navy ensures that his fellow Airmen are in good company.
"I'm not sure what I'll be tasked with over there," said Escott, a materiel management specialist with the 108th Logistic Readiness Squadron. "But all I want to do is complete the mission and return home safely to my wife and children."
The National Guard has mobilized nearly 650,000 Airmen and Soldiers in support of overseas contingency operations since 9/11. With military specialties such as aircrews, maintenance, personnel, security forces and others, the New Jersey based 108th Wing has contributed to this effort by covering more than 5,000 positions in support of these operations.
"These Airmen never cease to amaze me," said Meyer. "When the call to duty is made, it doesn't matter how tough is the mission, these Airmen will answer the call. They know they will leave jobs and families behind. But they live by the Air Force core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do, and these values will drive these Airmen to complete their mission and make our state proud."