HomeMediaArticle Display

Security forces send-off

Members of the 102d Intelligence Wing Security Forces say farewell to distinguished visitors, family and friends during a send-off ceremony held August 9, 2010. Approximately 40 members are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sergeant Sandra Niedzwiecki)

Members of the 102d Intelligence Wing Security Forces say farewell to distinguished visitors, family and friends during a send-off ceremony held August 9, 2010. Approximately 40 members are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sergeant Sandra Niedzwiecki)

Technical Sergeant Stephen Tibbetts and his daughters, Gemma and Sophia, look on with amazement as their dad is being interviewed by reporters following a send-off ceremony held August 9, 2010. Approximately 40 Security Forces airmen are scheduled to deploy to Iraq for approximately 6 months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sergeant Sandra Niedzwiecki)

Technical Sergeant Stephen Tibbetts and his daughters, Gemma and Sophia, look on with amazement as their dad is being interviewed by reporters following a send-off ceremony held August 9, 2010. Approximately 40 Security Forces airmen are scheduled to deploy to Iraq for approximately 6 months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sergeant Sandra Niedzwiecki)

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Family, friends and senior leaders gathered on Otis Air National Guard Base in early August to say goodbye to a group of Massachusetts Air National Guardsmen before they departed on an historic deployment to the Middle East.

The Aug. 9 send-off ceremony, hosted by the 102nd Intelligence Wing, honored approximately 40 Airmen of the 102nd Security Forces Squadron, and their families, before the Airmen deployed to Iraq for a six-month tour of duty.

This deployment marks the largest number of 102nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen to deploy at one time since Sept. 11, 2001. The mobilization also marks the first time the squadron's command staff has deployed as a group.

"These security forces Airmen that stand before you today are well-trained, motivated, enthusiastic and ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way," said Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Master Sgt. Ken Fowlie, serving on his third deployment, praised the military families who sacrifice tremendously while their loved ones are serving thousands of miles away.

"The families are what give us our strength and support," said Sergeant Fowlie, as he embraced his children shortly before beginning the journey to Iraq with his fellow Guardsmen.

In the midst of all the farewell wishes, one husband and wife team did not have to say goodbye to one another. Instead, they were looking forward to completing their mission overseas and returning home safely -- together.

Master Sgt. Mark Sheridan, married to Technical Sgt. Christine Sheridan a little more than one year ago, spoke of his confidence in his wife as a professional Airman.

"I don't have any worries. (Christine) is as skilled an Airman as there is in this unit," said Sergeant Sheridan.

While overseas, the 102nd SFS command staff will be responsible for the entire defense force at their deployed location and their primary responsibilities will include security and air base defense operations.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the 102nd SFS has deployed to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Diego Garcia, Guantanamo Bay, Bulgaria, Oman and Kyrgyzstan.