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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Yokota’s Personnel Readiness Function staff offers a word to the wise: Do what you can now to prepare for possible deployments and save a lot of last-minute rush.

Tech. Sgt. William Ehrlich and Staff. Sgt. Jerry Hampton run the two-man shop and handle every deployment or temporary duty assignment from Yokota.

In 2003, they’ve sent almost 1,000 troops to training exercises, humanitarian relief missions and Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployments.

Ideally, Ehrlich said, he’s notified months in advance of pending deployments — but last-minute orders are common.

Hampton remembers learning one Friday morning that an airman had to deploy that evening.

“He was able to do everything in one day,” he said of the predeployment process. But that’s unusual; it usually takes several days, he said.

Deploying servicemembers must get medical and dental clearances, complete wills, receive safety and intelligence briefings, get weapons qualified and work through a lengthy checklist of other base agencies.

Ehrlich said taking care of some of these tasks now will mean airmen get to spend more time with their families and less time running around in the last days before a deployment.

If more than 15 airmen are leaving at the same time, 1st Lt. Trastines Allen, officer-in-charge of the processing line, becomes involved, bringing all the required base agencies together in one room for the deploying troops.

“It serves as a last-minute checkpoint,” she said of the line.

Allen organized a processing line in late November to send about 50 374th Civil Engineer Squadron airmen to areas around the world in support of AEF Silver — a 120-day deployment meant to help return the Air Force to its normal deployment rhythm.

Capt. Jeff Lakey, Military Personnel Flight commander, called the line “one-stop shopping for deployments.”

Bringing the agencies together in one room — from chaplains to immunizations, public health doctors to finance folks — “benefits the younger troops,” Ehrlich said. “They’re already scared about deploying and you walk them along,” he said. “The most important thing is for them to be ready.”

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