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Staff Sgt. David Rogers of the 568th Security Forces Squadron gives his wife, Dria, a last hug before boarding a bus for Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a flight to a downrange deployment Thursday night. Son David, 1, watches other airmen get on the bus.
Staff Sgt. David Rogers of the 568th Security Forces Squadron gives his wife, Dria, a last hug before boarding a bus for Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a flight to a downrange deployment Thursday night. Son David, 1, watches other airmen get on the bus. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Staff Sgt. David Rogers of the 568th Security Forces Squadron gives his wife, Dria, a last hug before boarding a bus for Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a flight to a downrange deployment Thursday night. Son David, 1, watches other airmen get on the bus.
Staff Sgt. David Rogers of the 568th Security Forces Squadron gives his wife, Dria, a last hug before boarding a bus for Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a flight to a downrange deployment Thursday night. Son David, 1, watches other airmen get on the bus. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Tech. Sgt. David Bailey of the Ramstein-based 568th Security Forces Squadron helps load baggage on to a truck Thursday night, as the squadron heads to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a downrange deployment.
Tech. Sgt. David Bailey of the Ramstein-based 568th Security Forces Squadron helps load baggage on to a truck Thursday night, as the squadron heads to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, and a downrange deployment. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Staff Sgt. David Rogers of Ramstein’s 568th Security Forces Squadron had a little explaining to do to his son, “Little David.”

“I’m trying to explain to a 2-year-old where daddy is going,” Rogers said, as he held Little David for the last few minutes before leaving on a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

“I want him to know that daddy is going to be back soon,” said Rogers, 21, of Killeen, Texas.

Little David caught on pretty quickly.

“Bye-bye,” he said, smiling and waving his tiny hand to anyone nearby. “Bye-bye.”

Rogers and about 40 other members of the squadron, who patrol the base, are heading downrange as part of Aerospace Expeditionary Forces 1 and 2. They’ll be pulling security at a desert base, but Air Force officials declined to specify their exact destination.

About 900 Ramstein airmen from various job specialties are part of the AEF rotation, a four-month tour for most troops.

Security forces members, however, generally deploy for six months because they are in such demand. Ramstein’s 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron, which patrols the Kaiserslautern off-base community, also has been tapped for this AEF rotation.

Air Force police are getting used to the revolving door of deployments since Sept. 11, 2001, changed the face of security for the U.S. military everywhere.

“For the Air Force, this has become the norm,” the 568th commander, Maj. Andrea Begel, said.

“The culture has changed so much in the last four years that it has been ingrained in us,” said Begel, who has been on 14 short deployments around Central Asia and the Middle East in the last two years.

As in any shop, when the security forces go downrange, their squadrons at home have to do the same job with fewer people, Begel said.

At Ramstein, the busiest base in the Air Force, it means adding civilian German security forces members, and relying a great deal on German army troops who guard the base gates and perimeter, said Col. Gail Keefe, commander of the 435th Security Forces Group.

“It’s nonstop,” Keefe said.

While some younger airmen said Thursday that they couldn’t wait to get their first taste of war, others said they couldn’t wait to come home.

Senior Airman Jamie Heid couldn’t take his eyes off his newborn son, also named Jamie, as he waited for the bus.

His wife, Lori, was grateful their first child arrived in time to see off his dad. He was born only four days before.

“I’m ready for him to go and come back already,” Lori, 22, of Peckville, Va., said.

Heid fed the teeny baby, and then held him to his shoulder. Heid will carry a photo album with pictures of Jamie, who will look a lot different when he comes home in February.

“It sucks leaving, but it will be more for me to come back to,” Heid, 23, said.

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