SOUTHWEST ASIA --
The 482nd Fighter Wing identified, in a comprehensive Strategic Plan, its top priorities . . . and priority #1 is: Ensure trained, qualified Airmen ready to support the joint fight.
And how best to gauge if the 482nd Fighter Wing can execute the mission and provide trained, qualified Airmen to support the joint fight than to look to the over 200 482nd Mission Support Group Airmen serving in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
These reservists are supporting the fight in every aspect of mission support. “We have Airmen in security forces, in logistics, in personnel, in civil engineering, in communications, pretty much in every field to support ops,” said Col. Alan Teauseau, 482nd MSG commander.
“What’s impressive, however, is the positive feedback coming back to me on the number of Airmen and leaders we have in theater, using the training they received at Homestead to accomplish their mission,” continued Teauseau.
Senior Master Sgt. Charly Berio-Cruz, the air freight superintendent for the 70th Aerial Port Squadron at Homestead and currently the materials management superintendent for the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, manages over $300 million in equipment, individual protective equipment, and aircraft parts in the flight service center in theatre.
According to Berio-Cruz, what best prepared him for this deployment, his sixth, was “good commanders at Homestead that let me do my job. Emphasizing getting the job done, versus being wasteful with our time, really trains us as we should be trained.”
That training in Homestead, says Maj. Christopher Sweet, Berio-Cruz’ commander has produced a superintendent “that takes the reigns and runs with it.”
According to Sweet, “I’m impressed with his knowledge and ability to find answers. He and the other Homestead personnel in my flight have proven themselves from day one.”
Sweet went out of his way to also commend Master Sgt. Maria McSwain, who took the initiative to work with contractors for aerial port needs which kept the wing’s planes flying—another example of Homestead Airmen performing above and beyond.
Senior Master Sgt. Chad Martens, the security forces operations superintendent for the 482nd FW, is currently serving as the logistics and resources superintendent with the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.
In this position, he supervises five programs with assets of $9 million in equipment and supplies.
“We received support at every turn,” said Martens of his deployment experience. “Our training and then our support in out-processing made the transition much smoother.”
As many as 75 security forces Airmen are serving in Southwest Asia, for many this is their first deployment and for some, the first time they have left the state of Florida.
“We brought 80 percent of our squadron in support of this operation,” said Martens. “I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Homestead cops on their professionalism and how they are getting the job done—I’m proud of them!”
Senior Master Sgt. Charlie Lespier, the sustainment fight superintendent both for the 482nd FW and for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, echoes Martens’ praise for the effectiveness of the Homestead Airmen and noncommissioned officers.
“Our young Airmen are doing an exceptional job here during deployment,” said Lespier. “They dove right in, with little sleep from the long trip, and were immediately taking on real-world duties to make the wing run,”
This superior work has garnered Homestead’s sustainment Airmen: Airman of the Month, NCO of the Month, senior NCO of the Month, and Team of the Month from their expeditionary force support squadron commander.
Lespier, who overseas three dining facilities feeding over 7,500/day, along with permanent and transient lodging housing 3,000/night; he also runs the fitness centers with an average headcount of 1,200/day.
“Homestead provided me not only with hands-on experience to accomplish the mission here, but an additional exposure to manning and structure which were important to know for my duties here,” Lespier said.
The support from Homestead, according to all three SNCOs, has been exceptional; from the training, the out-processing, to the continued support while in theater.
“Even when we are here, our chief and acting First Sergeant are making an effort to call our families once a month and that means a lot to us,” said Martens.
Berio-Cruz, whose son Michael Gabriel was born during this deployment, echoes the support that Homestead is still offering its deployed Airmen. When Michael Gabriel was born with slight medical complications, Senior Master Sgt. Wanda Symons and Tech. Sgt. Rossalyn Decena from the 482nd Force Support Squadron “were on it” and contacted his wife and the hospital and in less than one day all medical coverage was taken care of.
“I can’t believe that four to five people back home went out of their way to ensure my son’s medical needs were met,” said Berio-Cruz. “They were even proactive and began Red Cross notifications in case I had to go home. They really set my mind at ease to allow me to do my best here in my deployment.”
Berio-Cruz, who happens to be the president of the top three council for his deployed base, is focusing on a top three council that emphasizes mentoring.
“I’ve received some exceptional mentoring at Homestead and I want to ensure the senior NCOs here also focus on their Airmen as I’ve seen at Homestead,” he said.
The secret to these 482nd FW leaders’ success? Each one, in reflecting on Homestead ARB’s achievements in this deployment, stated they did not rely on “just in time” training to be ready for their deployment but took advantage of the wing’s emphasis on Home Station Readiness Training and were able to integrate with their active duty counterparts seamlessly and efficiently.
“At the end of the day, how can a reservist deploy and lead? What does it take to integrate with active duty forces? Effective training that instills confidence in Airmen and senior NCOs alike,” said Col David P. Garfield, the 482nd Fighter Wing commander.
“We will continue to focus on our number one priority;” said Garfield, “To provide trained, qualified Airmen ready to support the joint fight. When this group returns, we will welcome them home and continue to train our Airmen to be a part of contingency forces defending the values of the United States.”
This group of 200 Homestead ARB reservists deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Operation Inherent Resolve is the U.S. military operation name for the military intervention against ISIS, including both the campaign in Iraq and the campaign in Syria.