55th RQS returns from deployment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter wing Public Affairs
Not all deployments that Airmen get tasked with are to far away locations where danger lurks around every corner. Sometimes Airmen get deployed to areas of the world where everyday Americans dream of visiting on their next vacation.

The members of the 55th Rescue Squadron recently returned from one such location, a three-month deployment to Kalamata, Greece Dec. 4.

"We were deployed in support of Operation Unified Protector," said Capt. Brian Stoops, 55th Rescue Squadron chief of current operations. "It's a NATO operation, protecting civilian lives in Libya. Our mission there was personnel recovery of NATO assets. We would help in the event of a NATO aircraft having a malfunction or a shoot down over Libya or any tasking given to us by the Joint Personnel Recovery Center."

Each deployment Airmen are tasked with brings new experiences and memories. The deployment to Greece was no different.

"Being able to interact with the French and British rescue forces was very memorable," said Tech. Sgt. Tony Jimenez, 55th RQS aerial gunner. "To be able to talk to them was pretty special. I was surprised to learn how much they know about us and our capabilities."

The phrase absence makes the heart grow fonder really holds true with deployments. Being away from family and friends for an extended period of time can make one miss what they have. But for one member of the 55th RQS, coming back home makes deployments bearable.

"I missed my wife and child the most," Jimenez said. "I have a 3-year-old daughter and I missed out on some important things my daughter did. Coming back though, makes it all worthwhile because it's like your Superman or a hero. Deployments make sour things sweet and sweet things taste a little better. Before I left for the deployment for example, I didn't like watching my little daughter's cartoon shows. Then half way through my deployment, I wished I could be watching cartoons with my daughter."

A deployment can also be a time to reflect on one's role in the big picture. It's a chance to figure out what's important in the person's life, said Capt. Leslie Semrau, 55th RQS chief of standardization and evaluation.

"The nice part of a deployment is that you get to validate what you're doing for the Air Force," Semrau said. "You also get to see from the outside looking back into your life what things you really do miss and habits or patterns that you don't want to get back into."