From the Frontlines Senior Airman Byron Caraway

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Some Airmen will go on a deployment and be tasked to do the same job they would perform at their home station, while other deployments bring Airman out of their comfort zone and into a new learning experience.

For Senior Airman Byron Caraway, 509th Comptroller Squadron financial management flight document control, his first deployment was certainly one of the latter.

Caraway deployed to Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait from October 2012 through April 2013, where he worked in force protection watching over third country nationals.

"Normally I am sitting at a desk reviewing documents for the finance flight," Caraway said. "While deployed it was a lot different because I was out on the base in different areas watching over workers, ensuring they get their work done."

Third country nationals work on base projects such as building runways and new facilities. Caraway and others guarantee that these members complete the job and keep the base safe in the execution of those jobs.

"Our job was important because we ensured that there were no incidents that arose that could have put the base, civilians, and other military personnel in danger," Caraway said.

A typical day for Caraway would begin at 5:30 a.m. He would report to work and check the day's schedule; depending on the job, his responsibilities could start at different times and be located anywhere on base.

"We made sure the TCNs entered the base safely by checking all personnel and their vehicles," Caraway said. "We would then watch them throughout the day, relaying every hour to an overseer on how many TCNs we were escorting because we had to maintain a 1:10 military personnel to TCN ratio."

Caraway enjoyed his deployment and missed the little things he took for granted.

"I missed celebrating the holidays with my family the most," Caraway said. "I also missed the basic freedoms of everyday life that I never thought would be significant- not needing permission to go get whatever food I want or going to Kansas City with friends. These are things I will make sure I appreciate more now that I'm back."

The best part of Caraway's deployment was the friends he made while in Kuwait.

"The fact that I found some good people to befriend early on helped me realize the value of camaraderie," Caraway said. "The deployment experience would have certainly been hindered had I not had others to trust and turn to. There were parts of the deployment that were tough for all of us. Knowing that we had each other to help with stress, anxiety and depression helped make the deployment experience a lot smoother."

Caraway lived in dorms while deployed, with three people to each room.

"I'm very thankful for our living conditions because we definitely could have been less fortunate," Caraway said. "We had full bathrooms and showers with hot water. We had Wifi hotspots virtually all over the base simply because we used our recycled plastic to fund our Wifi."

Caraway said that he would enjoy going on another deployment in the future.

"My deployment was indeed an experience," he said. "It was an eye-opener for how others who lived on the other side of the globe were earning their living day to day. Knowing that I'm in a completely different land, with completely different rules, certainly taught me the importance of the rights we have here in the States."

Caraway is originally from Chicago, Ill., and has been stationed at Whiteman since April 2010.