From the Frontlines: Senior Airman Duzaghi Tafie

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
An enlistment in the Air Force can take people on journeys all over the world. For Senior Airman Duzaghi Tafie, 509th Force Support Squadron food services specialist, that journey was an expedition to Southwest Asia.

Tafie was deployed in 2012, from April to Ocotber, as a quality assurance inspector for local national contractors who worked in his transit base's dining facility.

"We inspected how local nationals cooked, served food and served customers," he said.

When it comes to providing quality food service, Tafie is a subject matter expert. Ensuring Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen received quality food was a priority for the members on Tafie's team.

"My job was more appreciated overseas by the members serving from the frontlines," Tafie said. "Those who had been serving downrange appreciated whatever we did for them. We did our best to help transition them to or from [other locations in Southwest Asia.]"

Throughout the deployment, Tafie worked 12-hour days, six days a week.

"I worked Monday through Saturday and was off on Sundays," Tafie said. "Each day I arrived to work, my first task was to check what food was available and what had to be prepared for the day."

After the checklist items were completed, Tafie took accountability of workers, and ensured they were equipped and prepared to perform the day's mission.

The greatest difference between Tafie's job at Whiteman and his job in Southwest Asia is that at Whiteman he deals mostly with Service members. However, in the AOR, he worked mainly with an American contractor who was responsible for local national employees downrange.

"We supervised two contracting companies over there and we weren't allowed to cook," Tafie said. "I absolutely love cooking. I didn't get to cook at all while I was deployed, but I still enjoyed the experience."

Outside of not being able to cook, and missing his wife and friends, Tafie missed being able to drive his car wherever he wanted.

"While deployed, we couldn't go off base more than once a week and we didn't have a need to drive on base," he said. "So once I got back the very first day, I drove all the way to Kansas State and back. It was very relaxing for me."

Tafie said the most satisfying part of the deployment was the recreation.

"We had a multi-service volleyball tournament over there," Tafie said. "I also ran the Air Force half and full marathons. Those activities were very fun for me."

Being able to take time off during the duty day to work on his fitness was also a major plus for Tafie.

He joined the base honor guard to fill his free time while deployed, posting colors and folding flags for official functions and ceremonies.

"I also volunteered for the Fallen Warrior program, where we would change ice for the bodies of fallen Service members that were in transit between flights," Tafie said.

Tafie said one of the flights carrying the bodies was delayed and the ice had completely melted.

"The bodies weren't in very good shape because of water damage to wounds, and we had to clean them up before we put in new ice and flew them back home to their families," Tafie said. "There was some blood that needed to be cleaned, but I did what I had to do to take care of a brother-in-arms. I know other Airmen will take care of me if my body is in that kind of position one day."

Tafie also gave up 150 hours of time off duty to assist with different USO events and help with various base and squadron-level events.

"On a scale of one to 10, I would give my deployment a 10," Tafie said. "I enjoyed working with the local nationals and members of our sister services."

Overall, Tafie also enjoyed his living area while deployed.

"At first I thought our dorm rooms were small compared to what we have here at Whiteman," Tafie said. "But after speaking with Soldiers and Marines about their living conditions, I would say my living conditions were perfect. It was a deployed location, so I couldn't expect to live a perfect life."

Tafie said he appreciates what the Air Force has done to make the quality of life during deployments more enjoyable for Airmen.

"The deployment was an excellent way for Tafie to gain breadth of experience and see the mission from a new perspective," said Staff Sgt. Alaina Baldowski, 509th FSS Whiteman Inn guest services manager. "His outgoing personality and wide range of interests led him to make important connections that he otherwise would not have."

Having the opportunity to travel and see the mission from the opposite side of the planet made Tafie want to deploy again.

"There were many things I saw while I was deployed that touched my heart," Tafie said. "Being deployed taught me many life lessons."