Fight for freedom goes on
By Sr. Airman Nichole Ramirez, 146AW
/ Published April 10, 2010
Channel Islands ANGS, Calif. -- A small crowd of guard members, family and loved ones sat at the edge of their chairs, listening attentively to the words of our wing commander, command chief and other commanders as they informed the guests what they can expect while their loved ones are deployed.
Nearly 50 guard members departed that morning, headed to Afghanistan to join up with an additional 250 personnel and seven aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. March 7, 2010 was a poignant day for each deploying member and their families.
Col. Dave Bakos reassured everyone that the Air Guard is a family that takes care of each other.
"We have a reputation that has been earned around the world," said Col. Bakos. "That is what makes the Guard the Guard."
Command Chief Master Sgt. Rick Onsgard of the 146th Airlift Wing echoed that thought, but also reassured the deployers that their family would be looked after. And the purpose of communicating leave assurance is to allow the members to focus on their task at hand.
"When you leave [theatre location], you must leave it better than you found it. If you can do that, then you've done your job," said Chief Master Sgt. Onsgard.
Wing Commander Col. Paul Hargrove was also in attendance and gave his thanks to the family and guard members for their support, but had a very important message to convey directly to the deploying members.
Col. Hargrove stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and accountable; reminding each member that every deployment is different, and while some may have deployed to the same location before, conditions change from day to day.
"Now is not the time to get complacent," said Col. Hargrove.
Among the deploying troops was flight engineer, Senior Master Sgt. George A. Ramirez. His wife Joyce is a volunteer with Family Readiness for the 146th Airlift Wing. Both Senior Master Sgt. Ramirez and Joyce plan to keep in touch as often as they can via email and phone, and have created small mementos to help get through the separation.
"We had his dog tags blessed and rings [wedding bands] blessed," said Joyce as she showed the set she wears around her neck. Master Sgt. Ramirez has the band to her wedding ring set on a chain around his, as yet another reminder of his high school sweetheart who will be anxiously awaiting his return.
Senior Master Sgt. Danny J. Dizacomo and his wife Gayle embraced before his departure on the runway. Gayle said she is used to Senior Master Sgt. Dizacomo leaving for various trainings, but this was different.
"He has never deployed to something like this," said Gayle referring to this mission in Afghanistan and the length of the deployment.
"I am excited for him though, it is an opportunity that he has wanted and not had," said Gayle.
Senior Master Sgt. Dizacomo will act as troop commander for this deployment, and his leadership is confident in his capabilities.
"Danny has proven himself many times over," said Chief Master Sgt. Onsgard.
The chief again reiterated his goal and the goal of the senior leadership-- to ensure the family members are taken care of. Contact list for key personnel and even a group of skilled workers such as plumbers and electricians are made available to family members should anything arise during their loved ones' deployment.
"That is our word to the deployers," said Chief Master Sgt. Onsgard.
The flight line is typically restricted from civilians and most personnel. But on this day, a crowd surrounded the C-130 aircraft. Weeping spouses, confused children and concerned family members doing their best to show strength and support as their loved ones set off to support our nation's efforts towards the global war on terror.