July 29, 2008

Virginia Guard Airmen leave Langley for six-month mission in Kyrgyzstan

By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

An Airman from the 192nd Security Forces Squadron loads gear on to a bus July 27 at Langley Air Force Base. Airmen from the unit departed for a six-month deployment to Kyrgyzstan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — More than a dozen members of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Security Forces Squadron left Langley Air Force Base well before dawn on July 27 to begin a six-month deployment to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan.

While there, the Airmen are expected to conduct security operations to protect U.S. Air Force resources and personnel. It’s a mission that they are both familiar with and well trained for.

“It’s the same mission we have here, it’s just in a different location,” said Senior Airman Michael Tiller of Mechanicsville. “We all volunteered and we’re ready to go.”

At Langley the Airmen squared away some last minute paperwork and loaded up their gear and weapons before boarding a bus to Norfolk Naval Base. From there they were scheduled to fly to Europe and, eventually, to Manas Air Base and the Kyrgyz Republic.

The local community has stepped up to support the Airmen during their deployment. 

Tech Sgt. Bill Bryce of the 192nd SFS looks over his gear before boarding a bus for Norfolk Naval Base. From there the Airmen were scheduled to fly to Kyrgyzstan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Knights of Columbus Council 6189 provided every deploying Airman with a 1,200 minute calling card to make it easier to call family back home. In addition, the children of Newport Harbour Apartments provided care package items to Reservist and National Guard units in the area.

“The amount of support to go and do the mission we have received is incredible,” said Tech Sgt. Richard Satterfield, the noncommissioned officer in charge of mobility for the 192nd SFS. “It shows how involved the community is in supporting the mission.”

The majority of the Airmen volunteered for the mission and, while this is the first deployment for many of the younger troops, for some of the members of the unit it’s a second or third deployment.  

Tech Sgt. Bill Bryce of Fairfax previously deployed with the 192nd SFS to Iraq in 2006.

“This group all volunteered so it’s a good group of people to be going with,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Manas because, unlike Iraq, it’s all Air Guard personnel there and most everyone volunteered for the mission.”  

Master Sgt. Wayne Cole of Midlothian has been in the 192nd SFS for 15 years and deployed with the unit to Kyrgyzstan in 2003.

Airmen from the 192nd SFS get their weapons and equipment ready in the pre-dawn hours July 27 at Langley Air Force Base. (Photo by Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“This is a very good group of Airmen,” he said. “Most have less than four or five years experience and are very eager to go over there.”

“It’s one of the most positive groups I’ve seen,” Cole added, “and I hope it’s a safe deployment for all of us.”

Manas Air Base is home to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing and serves as the premier air mobility hub for the International Security Assistance Force and Coalition military operations in Afghanistan. The wing's around-the-clock missions include aerial refueling, combat airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and strategic airlift operations. The base also provides support for Coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan.

Approximately 1,000 military personnel from the United States, Spain and France are assigned to the wing, along with 650 U.S. and host-nation contractor personnel.

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