Two Kadena airmen earn Bronze Stars
November 26, 2004
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Two Kadena airmen were presented with Bronze Stars on Wednesday for action in Iraq they never dreamed they’d see.
When Master Sgt. Jonathan Tucker and Tech. Sgt. William Dominy, of the Vehicle Operators Flight, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron, got deployment orders in February, they expected to drive trucks.
Or at least manage vehicle operations. Instead, they were told the Army was shorthanded and they’d be handling airport security and act as armed escorts for truck convoys under constant insurgent attack.
They became part of the 2632nd Aerospace Expeditionary Force Transportation Company, the first Air Force unit to serve under U.S. Army command since World War II.
“The Army has a different definition for drivers than the Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 18th Wing commander, before pinning the medals on the two. “But these men made the Air Force and the Army very proud.”
Tucker and Dominy were deployed with 22 other flight members, said flight chief Senior Master Sgt. Ed Jones. “They did such a good job that we’ve been signed up to do this in FY06 again. Thirty-one members of the flight will be deployed sometime in January to do the same work.”
But this time, said Tucker, 33, of Plant City, Fla., he and Dominy will ensure the flight members will know what they’re in for.
Tucker was assigned to moving cargo at Logistical Support Area Anaconda at Balad, about 68 miles north of Baghdad. The base is nicknamed “Mortaritaville” because of the frequency of mortar and rocket attacks. As of October, according to the Seattle Times, insurgents were hitting the base twice daily.
Among the accomplishments listed in Tucker’s citation was his overall responsibility to “provide for the delivery of military cargo from the marshaling yard to its end destination at the busiest, most heavily mortared airfields” in the area. Tucker and his platoon “transported over 47 million tons of cargo and traveled over 20,000 miles,” the citation stated.
“We were frequently dodging mortars,” Tucker said. “That was pretty harrowing.”
He said he often had to “make do” with whatever he could “cobble together.” When he first got to the base, the Army unit in charge was working out of its trucks. Tucker said he “acquired” more suitable accommodations: a $30,000 office trailer set up on the flight line that had power, air conditioning and phone lines.
Dominy, 31, of Florida, N.Y., spent most of his deployment as a fire team leader, providing armed escorts for convoys throughout Iraq, racking up more than 57,000 accident-free miles, according to his citation.
“I was excited and thrilled to actually be in the front lines,” Dominy said. “We were the main line of supply for the Marines in the Fallujah region and I welcomed the challenge. I knew that the guys at the front needed the fuel and food and other supplies we shipped and we had to get it to them. ... For the civilian contractors that drove the convoys, we were their only source of security.”
Dominy said he had several close shaves.
“Once an IED (improvised explosive device) went off about five feet from my truck, blowing me out of the turret and knocking the truck sideways about three to five feet,” he said. “Another time the convoy got into a firefight at a big cloverleaf. The whole place lit up like it was Christmas.”
Dominy, a single parent of two young children, said he gained respect for the task the Marines and Army face. Since he’s been back at Kadena, he’s been telling the airmen scheduled for the next deployment to “take their training seriously and take care of each other. Always be vigilant. The time you lax up is the time that an IED is going to go off or an insurgent is going to attack.
“And come home safely,” he added, “so we can have a party for you.”