144th Security Forces Return Home

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Chris Drudge
  • 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Twenty-eight defenders from the 144th Security Forces Squadron returned to California between Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 after a six-month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the defenders' stint attached to the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, they were integrated with active duty, reservists and fellow guardsmen from across the nation, according to Lt. Col. Dave Johnston, 144th SFS commander.

Their overall mission was to provide security for the air base as part of a total force team of professionals, ensuring the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing's role to deliver airpower by executing the air and space tasking orders as directed by Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Central Command and to sustain regional presence went unhindered.
The 144th Fighter Wing defenders integrated into several positions including base patrol, security intelligence, pass and identification and fly away security teams.

"We were able to undertake missions that we were trained to do," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Smith, 144th SFS flight chief. "It gave me a real sense of pride and accomplishment."

The defenders were prepared to take whatever position was handed to them, and several of them gained new experiences from the deployment.

"The deployment reinforced that things change and we should be prepared to adapt to those changes. The training we've gone through did just that," said Staff Sgt. Chris Gonzales, 144th SFS patrol leader.

Staff Sgt. Kenny Smith, 144th SFS base defense operations controller, stated that one of the hardest parts of the deployment as a whole was being able to connect the dots and overcome the differences between the various elements and the way the mission is accomplished.

"Once I connected the dots, it was easier to work with the mixture of active duty and reservists," said Staff Sgt. Smith. "I now have a better understanding and viewpoint of how the integrated big blue system works."

The security forces members arrived back home in two waves. The second group of more than 20 Airmen was delayed by almost a week due to a severe winter storm that crippled the east coast. Wing leadership and fellow Airmen showed up in force to welcome back the defenders at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

"Our Security Forces personnel did an incredible job representing their squadron, their wing, and their state," said 144th FW Command Chief Master Sgt. Linda Brown, about the returning members.