Base, community bids farewell to deployers
By Senior Airman Daniel Phelps, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 08, 2015
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Tears were shed and hugs were given as more than 150 Airmen from the 94th Airlift Wing prepared to depart from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. this week for a deployment to Southwest Asia.
Before they departed, members of the unit held a ceremony to honor the Airmen and their families for their sacrifices.
Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris, 22nd Air Force commander; Pam Younkers, Chief of Staff of the Air Force civic leader advisor; Col. Brett Clark, 94th Airlift Wing commander; and David Connell, president and chief executive officer of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce; shared words of gratitude with the deployers and families.
"It will be a challenge being away from your families," acknowledged Harris. "But, remember you're only a Skype or e-mail away. Families - thank you for your support and remember your Air Force family is here for you."
Younkers echoed the general's sentiments.
"It is our privilege and honor to pray for you," she said. "Remember, we are only a phone call away."
1st Lt. Josh Rower, 700th Airlift Squadron aircrew member, and his wife Katie held their 8-month-old boy and expressed mixed emotions as he got ready to leave for his first deployment.
"This is really bittersweet," said Katie. "I'm really excited for him, but sad to not see him for so long."
Senior Airman James Bonilla, of the 94th Maintenance Squadron, said he was anxious about the deployment.
"I'm a little nervous," he said. "I'm leaving my family behind and we're expecting a child soon. But, I know my wife is strong. Fortunately, with today's technology we can still keep in touch every day."
The team from the 94th AW will be providing airlift and/or airdrop personnel and supplies within the Central Command area of responsibility, said Col. James DeVere, 94th Operations Group commander.
"Our U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules' will operate throughout the Middle East to include Iraq and Afghanistan," DeVere added.
Though combat missions have ended in Afghanistan, this has no effect on the 94th AW's deployment, Devere stated. The deployment is a scheduled Aerospace Expeditionary Force mission.
"Our aircrews and ground support personnel have been training for specific airdrop missions to meet CENTCOM requirements and prepared to execute the mission," DeVere said.
"They have trained and prepared for this for a long time," echoed Clark.
This is the second AEF deployment for the 94th AW since converting from a C-130 training mission to a combat coded wing in 2011.