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Three staff sergeants from Yokota Air Base, Japan, in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, say it’s gotten colder and dust is a part of daily life, but they’ve learned to deal with long workdays and not dwell on the dangers outside the wire.

Glenn Page and Travis Atkins are about halfway through their first deployments, while Johnathan Tucker is nearing the end of his third. All are filling different roles for the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base.

“Life here is like any deployed location. You have busy times and slow times,” Tucker, 23, of West Point, Miss., wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

He works as a special materials handler, processing air shipments for the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. His unit moves cargo including ammunition, medical supplies, mail and hazardous material.

When Tucker first arrived in early September, he didn’t get a day off. Recently, the squadron readjusted to a six-day workweek so he’s had some free time.

“I usually spend the majority of it catching up on sleep and going to the gym,” he said.

Atkins, assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron, is the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Joint Radio Relay Maintenance Team, which maintains numerous communications systems at various remote sites throughout Afghanistan. He said the team can be dispatched “at a moment’s notice” to make repairs at any location.

Atkins said he and another airman recently helped deploy and install a tactical satellite terminal at a forward operating base that will provide a radar picture for distant air traffic controllers.

“We’ve … been fortunate enough to get out and see some of the Afghan terrain while traveling to the sites,” Atkins, 26, of Boones Mill, Va., wrote in an e-mail. “It’s amazing to see firsthand how mountainous and desolate it can be and I have a higher respect and appreciation for all of the airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines that set foot out there on a daily basis.”

Atkins said he unwinds by working out and reading. He’s also training for a marathon.

Page, 26, of Mililani, Hawaii, belongs to Yokota’s 374th Communications Squadron. At Bagram, he works in the Land Mobile Radio shop, which is responsible for maintaining most of the Air Force’s mobile communications there, including hand-held radios, cell phones and some vehicle radios.

“One of the things I’ve done here that I’m most proud of is leading a four-person team on an antenna installation for the [55th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron],” Page said, adding they had to run about 2,500 feet of cable for six antennas.

Each morning, he also helps sort mail for all the Air Force squadrons and sections at Bagram.

“When I’m not at work I try to find things that eat up a lot of time, like reading, watching TV and sleeping,” Page said.

Tucker said he’s not bothered by threats outside the wire.

“I don’t get worried,” he said. “All of the military forces on this base are working hand in hand to keep the base safe.”


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