ARPC Airmen, Sailor recount deployment experiences

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  • By Mike Molina
  • Editor
Four Air Reserve Personnel Center Airmen and one citizen Sailor who recently returned from overseas deployments spoke to their fellow Airmen and civilian employees at ARPC's Warrior Day on June 18. 

Senior Master Sgt. Vince Devera discussed his 120-day deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, where he served as the branch chief and superintendent of the 36th Communications Squadron. At ARPC, Sergeant Devera is the superintendent of the directorate of communications and information. 

Being a native of Guam, he said he's answered a lot of questions from interested co-workers. 

"(Guam) is a U.S. territory, they use U.S. currency, and they also speak English," he said, which brought some chuckles from the audience. 

Sergeant Devera encouraged his fellow Airmen to deploy and keep sight of the mission of fighting the war on terror. 

"Be proactive," he said. "Become a part of the team because you're not going to know what's going on until you get there." 

Master Sgt. Kim McLaughlin, superintendent of ARPC's Records and Board Support Division, said she learned much about herself and the U.S. efforts in Iraq during her 367-day deployment to Baghdad. There she served in the International Zone as Superintendent of J-1, Multinational Security Command, Iraq. 

"You can learn a lot about the other services," she said. "We're working together seven days a week over there." 

Some 13 ARPC Airmen and at least two civilian employees who are Guardsmen or reservists deployed in the last year. Three others are currently deployed and at least one other is scheduled to deploy before November. 

Tech. Sgt. Stacy Wilfong was deployed for 120 days to Kuwait. She served at Camp Arifjan with the 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group where she was the only personnelist providing services to five bases throughout the region. 

"As a personnelist, you may ask yourself, 'What's my role in the war?'" said Sergeant Wilfong, NCO in charge of Records and Board Support, East Region at ARPC. "I supported them. It may seem minor, but it's major to the military personnel serving there." 

Staff Sgt. Carlos Novelo, assistant NCO in charge of ARPC's Force Development Systems Support branch, said he knew he'd be busy when he arrived in Baghdad for his 180-day deployment. 

"When I got there, the guy I was replacing was happy -- I mean like hugging me happy," he said to laughter from the audience. 

During his deployment, Sergeant Novelo served at Camps Liberty and Victory, and at Sather Air Base, Baghdad as a one-man Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. 

"I had to do everything a Military Personnel Flight does -- from assignments to EPRs," he said. 

The final speaker was Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Orton, who is a Navy reservist and civilian employee in ARPC's directorate of assignments. 

Senior Chief Orton served 30 days in Madagascar for a second time as the NCO in charge of the Maritime Partnership Program's Madagascar Team. The teams are supporting U.S. Africa Command as it prepares to become the tenth Unified Combatant Command in October. 

The trip to Madagascar was a welcome departure from his 2006 deployment to Anbar province in Iraq, but deployments, however different, are part of being in the military, Senior Chief Orton said. 

"This is going to be a long haul," he said. "When you deploy, you go to get the job done."