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Team Kadena members deploy for AEF 5/6

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nestor Cruz
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
More than 600 Kadena Air Base Airmen have begun deploying as part of AEF 5/6 to various locations in the USCENTCOM AOR to support the Global War on Terror.

As the Airmen prepared to board commercial aircraft Monday for their flight to locations in Iraq and Qatar, the 18th Wing commander wished them a successful mission and safe return.

"We've been attacked by enemies like we've never faced before," said Brig. Gen. Punch Moulton, 18th WG commander. "They are a group of people whose ideology is drawn to taking away our freedom, liberty, equality and democracy. But there is also another group of people tagged with the duty of protecting us and they are called 'Airmen.' You are all committed to what the Air Force is doing in the AOR and we are all proud of you. We will also be committed to taking care of your families and making sure they get the help they need. Every member of Team Kadena will be thinking of you and praying for you."

"Team Kadena was selected to be the lead wing for such a hefty deployment commitment and we're very fortunate to catch airlift right from here," said 1st Lt. Brianne Walker, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron Installation Deployment Readiness Center assistant installation deployment officer. "Usually we have to send a member from Kadena to the states to aggregate out of another location such as Norfolk (Va.), Selfridge (Mich.) or Ellsworth (S.D.). Deployers have several flights they must take and it often involves layovers at multiple locations. This time around our deployers get on the plane and go straight to their aerial port of debarkation.

"It's also fortunate our Shoguns were able to spend the holidays with their families and loved ones before heading out," Walker said. "Hopefully our deployers will keep in mind these great memories and use them to stay focused on the mission."

Some departing Airmen agreed with that sentiment, stating quality time spent with families over the holidays rejuvenated them for the mission ahead.

"This is my first deployment and I'm a little nervous about it, but I'm glad I was able to spend the holidays with my husband. Now I've got a job to do," said Airman 1st Class Tanya Blackburn, 18th Services Squadron.

"It's a great feeling knowing I'm finally going out there to do the mission and protect my friends and family back home," said Senior Airman Buddy Cory Lee, 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"I'm very excited about being called upon to do my part in the global war on terror," said Lt. Col. Javier Casanova, 33rd Rescue Squadron.

Family members of Kadena's deploying Airmen are proud of their service members and eager to have them come home.

"I'll try to stay busy and not focus on my spouse being away, but I'm very proud of her and the job she's doing," said Justin Blackburn, an auto body and paint technician at the auto hobby shop and spouse of Airman Blackburn. "I know she'll do a great job out there and get the mission done."

"It's important to note that just about every base agency pulled together to make this a successful mission," Lieutenant Walker said.

(Airman 1st Class Sheila deVera contributed to this story)