From the Frontlines: Tech. Sgt Meredith Fekkers

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Her job, stateside, is to work for servicemembers, as NCO in charge of General Law.
But, while deployed to Iraq, Tech. Sgt. Meredith Fekkers, 509th Bomb Wing Judge Advocate, worked at the Detainee Legal Operations Center, researching and answering legal-related questions for terror suspects held in custody by coalition forces.

"My job was completely different from my stateside mission, because we don't have Iraqi and third country nationals suspected of participating in terrorist and anti-coalition forces activity here at Whiteman Air Force Base," she said.

In light of the Abu Ghraib scandal, special care is taken to treat all detainees as human-beings.

"I feel like my office directly contributed to the success of the mission by living by the motto of 'Care, Custody and Respect' for the detainees under coalition forces control."

The Detainee Legal Operations Center is located in Baghdad, Iraq, and is a joint task force consisting of Navy and Air Force personnel.

"It was very enlightening, working so closely with other branches of service, and learning about Iraqi law and their culture."
As is the case with any deployment, the people made all the difference.

"The mission was rewarding and very important, but the people really made it great," said Sergeant Fekkers. "I made a lot of lifelong friends that I will always share this experience with."

Along with the important work they accomplished together, the team also took time to enjoy the rich history of the fertile crescent region.

"We took many tours of various palaces, took a Blackhawk flight to the International Zone to tour the courtroom Saddam Hussein was sentenced in, just to name a few highlights," Sergeant Fekkers said. "My entire deployment was full of memorable experiences."

Though good times were to be had, Sergeant Fekkers said she missed a lot of things back in the U.S.

"I missed my family, of course, but indoor plumbing is something you won't take for granted after a deployment."

Now back at the 509th Bomb Wing, Sergeant Fekkers offers this advice to her fellow 509ers about to deploy:

"Embrace the experience, and keep a journal to memorialize the time you spend away from the U.S."