Dozens of Yokota airmen deploy to Middle East
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Roughly 80 airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing headed downrange Saturday evening to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
It’s part of a scheduled rotation within the Air Force’s Aerospace Expeditionary Force cycle and will involve dispatching about 270 Yokota airmen through December.
The airmen left for Central Command’s area of responsibility. Inside Yokota’s Passenger Terminal, they were joined by family, friends and co-workers for a small sendoff.
“It never gets any easier. The week before he leaves is always the hardest,” said Kumiko Jameson, who was there to see off her husband, Tech. Sgt. Richard Jameson.
She added that they will stay in touch by e-mailing each other every day, in addition to phone calls.
“It’s not as hard to stay in touch as it used to be,” said Tech. Sgt. Jameson who is leaving on his fourth deployment in six years.
Other people in the terminal, including Airman 1st Class David Jaime, from the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, were heading to Southwest Asia for the first time.
“I’m a little bit excited and nervous as the same time,” said Jaime, adding that while the extra money and experience will be good for him, he is not looking forward to the heat or to being away from his friends and co-workers.
Capt. Chris Watt, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman, said personnel from several squadrons and agencies are included in the current deployment batch. They include security forces, communications and aircraft maintenance. But the civil engineer and logistics readiness squadrons are among the units being hit hardest.
Yokota’s contingent is expected to be gone for four to six months, he added.
However the months may go longer for some, including Jameson’s 9-year-old daughter, Natumi.
“I’ll feel sad because I’ll miss him,” she said. “Four months is a long time for me.”
Before boarding a charter plane, airmen passed time by talking with friends, playing with their children and even tossing a football around in the parking lot. In between, they grabbed refreshments and munched on snacks in the terminal’s lounge.
Also heading out for his fourth deployment, Master Sgt. Karl Wiegard, from the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, said that by now, deployments have become “a little bit routine” to him, adding that his twin sons are still too young to fully understand what is going on when daddy leaves.
“Believe it or not, my dogs were actually acting funny when I was getting ready to leave today,” he laughed. “I guess they remembered the last time I wore this uniform I went away for a few months.”