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NAS Kingsville Security Personnel Return From Iraq

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS061004-15
Release Date: 10/4/2006 1:39:00 PM

By Jon Gagné, Naval Air Station Kingsville Public Affairs

KINGSVILLE, Texas (NNS) -- A contingent of Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville security personnel returned home to South Texas Sept. 27, from a nine-month tour in Iraq as part of the Navy’s individual augmentee (IA) program in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Sailors were met at the Corpus Christi airport by a large number of Security Department personnel, family, friends, NAS Kingsville leadership and a large number of local media.

“Wow! We were expecting a small homecoming celebration but certainly nothing like this,” said Master Chief Master-at-Arms Charles Davis, the senior member of the returning personnel. “We’re all very excited to be home, and this is just awesome.”

The contingent of nine personnel was activated Sept. 17, 2005. Prior to deploying for initial IA training at Port Hueneme, Calif., they spent 11 days in New Orleans assisting with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Their next stop was at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they received six weeks of training in Army basic infantry and detainee operations. They reported to Fort Suse in the northern Kurdish area of Iraq in January 2006.

“The great thing about these guys is that every one of them volunteered for this duty,” said Ens. David VanDyke, NAS Kingsville assistant security officer. “Over the last two years, we’ve had 25 NAS Kingsville personnel participate in the IA program, some going to Afghanistan, some to Iraq, and some to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This group all spent nine months on the ground in Iraq.”

The IA program is a Department of Defense initiative to use certain skill sets in all branches of the armed forces to meet mission requirements. The program was put into place to use personnel in all branches of the military with experience and training in physical security, detainee operations, construction, supply and a number of other specialties.

“Losing nine personnel from our Security duty section all at once was tough,” said NAS Kingsville Commanding Officer, Capt. James Crabbe. “But we were happy to play our part in the IA program. Every member of the NAS Kingsville Security Department that isn’t on duty is here tonight to help welcome these guys home, and I think that says a lot about the tight-knit family we have at NAS Kingsville.”

The returning Sailors hugged their family members and posed for pictures, received congratulations from their co-workers, and spoke with media representatives about their time on the ground. For many, the time in-country passed slowly, but each of the men knew that the role they were playing in the war was an important one.

“Doing the job we had to do in Iraq was difficult,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Manuel Morales, “but we knew we were making a difference. It’s just great to have that all behind us now and that all of us returned home safely.”

Morales’ wife was all smiles. “It’s been a very long year for us,” she said, “but I am just thrilled that we can finally get things back to normal again. I am so proud of all of these guys for what they have done.”

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