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Individual Augmentees Return to Naval Air Station Jacksonville

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100223-29
Release Date: 2/23/2010 9:00:00 PM

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Feb. 18 after their seven-month individual augmentee deployments to Iraq.

Master-at-Arms 1st Class Zachariah Janssen and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Christopher Mauricio-Ortiz, and their Military Working Dogs (MWD) Brit and Brix were welcomed home by NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Jack Scorby Jr., NAS Jacksonville Command Master Chief (SW/SS) Jeff Hudson, members of the NAS Jax Security and Fire departments and family and friends gathered near Heritage Park to congratulate the Sailors on a job well done.

"I am thrilled to welcome you guys home. Our Sailors are over there are doing their missions day in and day out," said Scorby as he presented Janssen and Mauricio-Ortiz with command challenge coins. "We have some 14,000 boots on the ground in that area and I can't thank you enough for the fantastic job you did and how you represented yourselves, NAS Jax and our Navy. Well done! We're glad you are back home safe and sound and I know you have some unbelievable memories of what you've been involved with over there."

The two Sailors and their dogs left NAS Jax in March 2009 for three months of training in Yuma, Ariz. before reporting to their duty stations in Iraq where their spent seven months as "boots and paws on the ground."

Arriving at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, Janssen and Brit worked with other MWD handlers providing security for American and Iraqi troops. "Our job was to sweep VIP suites, provide security for VIPs and inspect vehicles coming onto the military bases," said Janssen. "Brit did a great job over there – considering that this was his third deployment and that he's nine years old."

Mauricio-Ortiz and Brix spent most of their deployment on a small operating base on the Iraq-Jordan border. "Our fort was really small so the camaraderie was great and our team was pretty close," he said. "We did a lot of good things and met a lot of people. Brix and I had many opportunities to interact with the public and I'm so glad I went on this deployment. If I get the chance, I'll definitely go again."

But for now, both say they are thrilled to be back home. "It's great to be back here with my family and friends and seeing all the familiar faces. But let's not forget that work is still going on over there. I actually just met a few Sailors from Jacksonville who are currently serving in Iraq so they deserve a round of applause and we need to keep them in our thoughts," Janssen said.

"I agree, we need to keep everyone over there in our thoughts and realize what a great job they are doing," Mauricio-Ortiz said.

After some well-deserved leave time, both Sailors will resume their duties with the NAS Jax Security Department.

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