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There I was...: The Mission Picks You

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. James Kamrad
  • 6th Security Forces Squadron
Deploying is one of the most enjoyable and challenging parts of being in the military. To show my interest in deploying, I would hound the unit deployment manager by sending routine emails stating I had passed my physical fitness test; I was not on a profile, and that I was cleared with the dentist. Upon notification of my deployment, I was excited for the new adventure. I envisioned a deployment back to Iraq or Afghanistan, but the Air Force had a different mission for me.

Upon selection for deployment, I was informed I was to lead a team of five members to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. To my surprise, the deployment would be only five months, rather than a standard six-month tour.

Although assigned as a team, it quickly became evident that my team would not be filling a "normal" team role upon arrival at the deployed location. The team was made up of Tech. Sgt. Dena Jones, Staff Sgt. Luis Gonzalez, Staff Sgt. Edwin Garcia and myself, all from the 6th Security Forces Squadron. Additionally, Capt. Robert Pryzybyz was part of our team during regional training.

At our regional training center in El Paso, Texas, we meshed well and quickly learned to work together representing Team MacDill, along with 110 other security forces members also in training.

The first week in training was a refresher course in staff function responsibilities. We then proceeded to brush up on our ground combat skills. I always find something new to learn at the RTC, despite having attended many times.

Every deployment has challenges, but each of the team members excelled.

For Jones, this was her first time deploying as a "straight-leg" cop, since she is no longer a military working dog handler. The deployment forced her out of her comfort zone of eight years as a handler. She soon embraced her role as an assistant flight chief, element leader, and area supervisor. Jones learned how to manage more than 100 Airmen and flight operations. She already was a well versed MWD operations and squadron administrator, and her deployment helped her to develop further as an NCO and leader. Jones excelled both on-duty and off, where she became the president of the Defender's Den, which supported unit Airmen. Jones made good use of her time during this deployment by completing her Community College of the Air Force associate degree and bachelor's in forensic science.

Jones was not the only MacDill team member who branched out in their duties. At MacDill, Gonzalez worked as a force protection NCO. When we arrived at our deployed location, his can-do attitude was quickly noticed. He was selected to work on a Joint United States - Host Nation patrol, where he completed more than 100 outside-the-wire missions, earning him NCO of the month. When performing his duties, he worked hard to foster quality relationships with our host nation counterparts. He continued to assist the Air Force Office of Special Investigations with developing new priority intelligence reporting. This effort will be felt and recognized long after Gonzalez re-deploys back to MacDill AFB.

Garcia performed under continuous pressure and was quickly selected to fill a gap of security forces controller. He performed his duties flawlessly. He assisted in developing the first expeditionary control center which incorporated the base fire department with security forces. He is a desk sergeant and quick reaction force leader and trainer. This elite two squad team is made up of eight personnel who prepare for the worst possible scenarios that could occur on base. They train every day to defend against incidents that could occur. This team trains to be a consistent and cohesive unit in order to protect lives and resources. Garcia was just the right fit for the job.

As the deployment wound down, I could not have been more proud to have worked with my team, whose efforts and versatility were repeatedly noted by unit leadership. My team did not know much about each other, but worked well together on this deployment. It's proof that we don't get to pick our mission or team, but the mission picks you. I am a better senior NCO and person for being able to work this mission with these extraordinary team members. If I did get to pick the mission, I would definitely pick these NCOs to deploy with again -- anywhere in world.