Citizen-Airmen recognized during demobilization ceremony

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel and Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 142nd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), along with members of the 142nd Security Forces Squadron (SFS), who recently returned in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), were formally recognized during a demobilization ceremony held Dec. 7 on base.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Secretary of State Kate Brown were in attendance, along with other distinguished guests including Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, The Adjutant General, Oregon, and Brig. Gen. Michael Stencel, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard.

Although the ceremony celebrated the recent homecoming of two units, members actually deployed to various destinations in Afghanistan and Bahrain, contingent on their profession and filling critical duty positions. 

"Our nation needed each and every one of their personal and collective skills; whether as fire fighters, emergency managers, engineers and security professionals, they all volunteered for these assignments," said Hokanson.

Twenty-four engineer technicians were assigned to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, focusing on installation infrastructure repairs, airfield upgrades, and maintenance support to current base facilities. Additionally, three CES firefighter were assigned to Bahrain, performing fire and emergency services for both flight line and base personnel.

"These efforts laid a solid foundation for the ongoing Air Force mission and the transition to the next phase of U.S. military operations," said 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Commander Jason Lay, who led the Oregon team at Bagram.

During their six-month deployment the CES accomplished numerous high-visibility projects. They managed more than $33 million of construction contracts, critical to the ongoing OEF mission at the busiest combat logistical center operated by the Department of Defense. Collectively they completed more than 970 individual work orders, including 13 major projects related to the base infrastructure, ramps, and taxi and runway capacities.

Completing her first deployment, Staff Sgt. Alicia Tishmack, an emergency management specialist here, hopes to take some of the challenges of the deployment experience, and enhance her knowledge and job proficiency after this deployment.

"Deploying allowed me to utilize the skills that I have developed during my seven years in the National Guard while learning more about this career field," she said.

Tishmack and other 142nd CES members assigned at Bagram Air Base endured the heat, dust, long hours of work and the difficulties of being separation from loved ones. "It was hard at times [being away] but the mission kept me focused and busy," she said.

Lay believes his Airmen made a positive contribution to the nation's sustained overseas contingency operation. "They stood as shining examples as Citizen-Airmen of the Air National Guard, making an impact toward the military war effort," he said. 

While deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, the six Airmen from the 142nd FW Security Forces Squadron defended their area of responsibility with an equally impressive assignment. During their six-months on station, they resisted 5 indirect fire attacks, secured their post during multiple base-wide lockdowns and provided post-attack reconnaissance, and assuring a 100 percent record of accountability. 

"We formed a good bond and were trained in advanced for this task," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Cubias, assigned to the 142nd SFS.

As one of just two Noncommissioned Officers with the group, Cubias has multiple deployments to his credit with the unit prior to this mission. He and the rest of the team of Oregon guardsmen, volunteered for critical additional duties at the base hospital, firing range, and United States Organization (USO).

Upon returning home, Cubias, like many of the 142nd FW Airmen who undertook the OEF mission, expressed a renewed sense of meaning from this particular deployment. "I feel like I belong to something greater, something bigger. I'm representing my country," he said.

In his concluding remarks at the demobilization ceremony, Maj. Gen. Hokanson reiterated the conduct and accomplishments of the 33 local Airmen returning home to the Pacific Northwest from overseas duty.

"I hope each and every one of you takes pride in knowing that you, as individuals and together as a team, made a difference and always made us proud. Your skills are not only critical on a global scale but also here at home, and we're really glad to have you back," he said.

Col. Richard Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander shared Hokanson's sentiments as well, shaking hands with each Airman following the ceremony and spending time with many family members and supporters who reinforced the mission from the home front.

"We need to remember the sacrifices made by the families, friends and employers of these Airmen as well. Their enduring assistance and care is critical to the National Guard's success," said Wedan.