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Mobility bags ready to be picked up by deploying airmen at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. More than 400 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing are slated to deploy in the upcoming Air Expeditionary Force rotations 3 and 4.
Mobility bags ready to be picked up by deploying airmen at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. More than 400 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing are slated to deploy in the upcoming Air Expeditionary Force rotations 3 and 4. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)
Mobility bags ready to be picked up by deploying airmen at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. More than 400 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing are slated to deploy in the upcoming Air Expeditionary Force rotations 3 and 4.
Mobility bags ready to be picked up by deploying airmen at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. More than 400 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing are slated to deploy in the upcoming Air Expeditionary Force rotations 3 and 4. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)
Airman 1st Class Perry Guinn examines some gear stored inside the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week.
Airman 1st Class Perry Guinn examines some gear stored inside the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)
Airman 1st Class Douglas Cornelius sifts through Kevlar helmets at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week.
Airman 1st Class Douglas Cornelius sifts through Kevlar helmets at 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron's deployment center warehouse last week. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH

Just like others before them, the more than 400 48th Fighter Wing airmen who will deploy in support of upcoming Air Expeditionary Force rotations 3 and 4 will make one last stop before they head downrange — to obtain their handy mobility bag.

The olive-green bag is the essential tool kit for surviving on the battlefield. Body armor, Kevlar helmet, sleeping bag, chemical warfare gear and other items are stuffed into these bags.

Last week, Airmen 1st Class Douglas Cornelius and Perry Guinn were manning the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s deployment center warehouse where the bags and weapons are picked up.

This round of deployments is more special to them than past ones. That’s because both 22-year-olds not only will be assisting deploying airmen, they’ll also be joining them.

“It will definitely be a different environment,” Guinn said of his forthcoming tour to Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq.

Guinn will switch roles from his work at the warehouse, where he estimates 15,000 to 20,000 pieces of gear are stored, to watching over Iraqi laborers at Kirkuk.

Although he doesn’t expect his duties to take him outside the wire, the threat of rocket and mortar attacks warrants some concern.

“It does play in your mind a little bit,” he said.

Graphic news reports from Afghanistan aren’t sitting well with Cornelius’ wife, Jasmine, before his deployment to Bagram Air Base, he said.

But since they had at least a year of advance notice of the three-month tour, she has come to grips with it.

“There’s not really any worries now,” he said.

About 60 other airmen from the squadron also are expected to set out to locations across Southwest Asia for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Tech. Sgt. Melissa White is the unit’s deployment noncommissioned officer in charge and has been squaring away airmen with all the training and briefings they require. She’ll be deploying soon as well.

And it will be her first deployment away from her two daughters — ages 1 and 4 years.

“I’ll be missing the first time she walks or talks [and] I’ll miss my [other] daughter starting kindergarten in September,” the 31-year-old airman said last week. “Those types of things make it difficult, but at the same time I’m going to support and protect my country.”

She plans to bring plenty of family photos and stay in contact with them by phone and webcams. She’ll also look to knock out some schoolwork on her laptop during her free time.

Any free time that Cornelius and Guinn are given also will be dominated by online studying, they said.

“That’s one of my main goals downrange,” Cornelius said.

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