KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The 403rd Wing welcomed back more than 30 members of its Security Forces Squadron in the past few weeks from a 180-day deployment to the United Arab Emirates, where they provided security to the Al Dhafra Air Base from October 2018 to May 2019.
Master Sgt. Philip Scott Weatherford, 403rd Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, said their training had prepared them to succeed on the deployment mission.
“As reservists, most of us have careers outside of our military career, but I felt that everybody came together as a team as get the mission accomplished,” said Weatherford.
Senior Airmen Tiffany Evans and Joshua Turnbull noticed distinct differences on this first deployment. Evans missed home cooking and Turnbull had never seen that amount of sand.
Despite those personal adjustments, the deployed Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 403rd Security Forces Squadron focused on their specific duties.
“You had to stay on your game. We were basically looking for drugs, weapons, or anything not authorized to bring on the base. That was my daily routine over the deployment,” said Turnbull.
While much of Turnbull’s time was searching vehicles and visitors at base entry points, Evans had various security responsibilities, one of which included maintaining base flight line security.
“On flight line security duty, we would always have to be consistent with checking IDs to ensure that only authorized people gained entry to the base and the flight line,” said Evans.
The six month overseas deployment also illustrated the differences between life in the UAE and the United States.
“Quite often we forget what we have here in the United States” said Weatherford. “When we experience some of the challenges other countries may face, it helps me realize how blessed we are and what we have to defend.”
Turnbull agrees and said, “It definitely makes you appreciate what we have here at home.”
Weatherford is glad that all his Airmen returned safely to their families.
“In security forces, a quiet day is a good day,” said Weatherford. “We did very well. I’m proud of how we worked together as a unit and I’m glad for the support we received from home.”
Lt. Col. Charles Gates, 403rd Security Forces commander, describes the support from home as absolutely essential in the completion of a successful deployment.
“Our 403d Security Forces Squadron Defenders represent a patriotic cross-section of civilian, local, state and federal employees who with the support of their employers, families and communities are honored to serve,” said Gates.