What goes around comes around: Airmen return from four-month tour

An Airman receives a warm welcome at the base fire station upon return from a four-month deployment.  More than 120 Airmen from various squadrons here returned Sept. 28 from their deployments in Southwest Asia. (Photo by Senior Airman Mickey Bazaldua)

An Airman receives a warm welcome at the base fire station upon return from a four-month deployment. More than 120 Airmen from various squadrons here returned Sept. 28 from their deployments in Southwest Asia. (Photo by Senior Airman Mickey Bazaldua)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- There's an old adage claiming "You can't go home again," but that statement doesn't hold true to the 128 deployment returnees who returned to their home, the 4th Fighter Wing, Sept. 28.

These Airmen, deployed from various squadrons, put in long hours and an all-out effort during their four-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We worked really hard over there, 12 hours a day, six days a week," said Master Sgt. James Marfield, who served as the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of conventional munitions maintenance while deployed.

Some Airmen had to learn through trial by fire while deployed.

"My kids did a lot a growing up over there," said Staff Sgt. Michael Anthony, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "I had a lot of Airmen who went over there really green but came back larger than life. Without them, we couldn't have gotten things done. It's also great to be able to step outside and not have to squint."

However, it wasn't just the Airmen who were trying to adjust.

"When you're over there, you really don't have the luxury to train or settle in," Sgt. Marfield said. "The biggest challenge as an NCO is slowing the guys down and keeping them focused on the mission."

In the heat of the moment, the deployed Airmen exhibited a strong sense of urgency which enabled them to accomplish the mission.

"Aside from ops tempo, it was pretty much business as usual,' Sgt. Anthony said. "We were just going 90 miles an hour trying to get the jets back in the air."

Now that the Airmen have made it back home, they've earned a little time to unwind for their dedication to the mission.

"When you're over there, it's almost like a dream," said Airman 1st Class Jay Diegmiller, 4th EMS. "Now that I'm here, it feels like I just woke up."