After Iraq service, Lakenheath airman to tell American audiences of his experiences
January 3, 2007
RAF LAKENHEATH — Staff Sgt. Jeramiah Poff has a good story to share. And now he’s got three months to tell it.
“Everything we go through to get the mission done,” Poff, 24, said. “I want to share that with the American people.”
The 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer is one of only two airmen selected from the Air Force’s 350,000 members to participate in the Pentagon’s “Why We Serve” program.
The New Jersey native works as a vehicle operator dispatcher on RAF Lakenheath, maintaining trucks, managing inventory flow and delivering material across the United Kingdom. It’s an important but often tedious job.
In Iraq, however, the five-year airman had one of the most perilous missions of the conflict: convoy duty.
He served as part of a team ferrying supplies between Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and Air Force installations in Iraq. In that role, he worked as both a driver and a gunner.
“I made it as far north as Baghdad International Airport, but I never made it to the Green Zone,” he said. “Anything you can think of, I had to haul it. We had to haul a load of plastic chairs once, but that’s a different story.”
All told, he spent nine months deployed, seven in the Middle East, including nearly 50 days in Iraq. Poff trained with soldiers before traveling more than 6,700 miles during his 47 days in Iraq.
For his service downrange, Poff was awarded an Army Commendation Medal as well as an Iraqi Campaign Medal, he said.
Poff returned from Iraq in June and less than a week later enrolled in the Airman Leadership School, where he finished as a top graduate, according to his supervisor.
Soon after he finished the school, his 48th LRS supervisors nominated him for the “Why We Serve” program.
The program is a Department of Defense initiative for “members of the armed forces to speak about the nobility of service and share their personal experiences with the American people,” according to the program’s Web site, http://speakers.dod.mil/.
The Pentagon’s “educational campaign” was launched last year when 13 troops from across the four branches of the military fanned out across America to share their stories directly with the public, according to the Defense Department.
The Web site specifies that program members speak about their personal experiences, not about specific Defense Department policy.
Joe Pina, 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations flight chief, described Poff as an “outstanding individual.”
“He goes way above the call of duty to get the job done every day,” Pina said. “We are way undermanned right now, but sending him to something like this is something we are going to work hard to support.”
Earlier this month, Poff was alerted that his 2007 would begin back in the United States. He was scheduled to fly on Dec. 31 to Washington, D.C., where he was to take temporary station under a Marine Corps major at the Pentagon.
“I want to tell people that they should have faith in us,” Poff said. “Whether you agree with [our mission in Iraq] or not, we’re there, and it’s important people realize that we are going to be there until we finish what we started.”