Home station support; we can't deploy without it

Chief Master Sgt. James Dowell, 14th Mission Support Group Superintendent

Chief Master Sgt. James Dowell, 14th Mission Support Group Superintendent

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- At the end of April, I said farewell to my wife and daughter at Golden Triangle Regional Airport, and departed for Southwest Asia. Though I was sad to leave my family behind, I was excited to meet the challenges of deployed duty. Similar scenes involving thousands of Airmen played out at terminals across the world as they too said good bye to their loved ones, then departed to fight the Global War on Terror. Each Airman in the area of responsibility requires a great deal of support to deploy. As I enter the second half of my tour, I'd like to highlight just how important each member of the BLAZE Team is to the Air Expeditionary Force cycle.
Preparation is the key to a successful deployment. Numerous stops must be made around the base before an Airman leaves for the desert. Every aspect must be considered: uniforms, equipment and airline tickets from logistics, shots and public health briefings from the medical group, orders, passports and country clearances from Mission Support Squadron just to name a few. All of this must be done while finishing projects at work, taking care of personal matters and squeezing in family time. Each Airman relies heavily on the expertise and efficiency of all base agencies to ensure the timely departure and arrival in the AOR with the right equipment and useful training. It takes a tremendous amount of energy for each agency to stay up to date on policies and the unique reporting requirements for each deployed location. The BLAZE Team was clearly up to the challenge, flawlessly sending 62 Airmen to the AOR. No easy task!
Another group among the BLAZE Team that deserves recognition is those who stay behind and take on the duties of their absent comrades. Many have deployed before or will go again shortly, but it continues to be a challenge to take on extra duties and special projects while work centers are shorthanded. Not much glory, but the mission depends on the dedication and extra efforts of the men and women who keep things going while others depart.
Last and certainly not least, I send a special thanks to the families of deployed Airmen as well as their neighbors and base agencies that support them. My family supports me every step of the way and keeps my morale high, though they endure some trials as well. Additionally, I'm continually amazed and humbled by the support my family receives from folks around the base. From the Airmen and Family Readiness Center and the base Chapel to the good people in base housing, thank you for taking care of our families. Knowing our loved ones are in good hands brings great peace of mind when we are 8,000 miles from home.
It's been my pleasure to deploy and serve with great Airmen at this location. They amaze me each day with their professionalism and can-do spirit. Each of us owes a debt of gratitude to the people who helped us deploy, and sustain us and our families. On behalf of the deployed men and women of the BLAZE Team, we extend our thanks to each of you, military and civilian alike, for your support. Everyone who contributes to the Columbus AFB mission of building the world's best warriors, leaders and professional military pilots plays an important role in the lives of all Airmen who deploy. Thanks for your selfless service!
(Editor's Note: Chief Master Sgt. Dowell is presently deployed as the 64th Air Expeditionary Group Superintendent)