From The Frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Joshua Stonestreet

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
When an Airman deploys, there are many adjustments to make.

For Tech. Sgt. Joshua Stonestreet, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team member, he had to adjust to a completely different military culture.

Stonestreet was deployed from October 2011 to April 2012 with a United States Marine Corps combat engineer platoon in Afghanistan.

Stonestreet's platoon performed a vital mission - ensuring convoys carrying Service members and vital supplies could travel safely along Afghanistan's treacherous roads.

"We were part of a Route Clearance Package, which allows supplies and personnel to be shipped safely by road to different bases throughout Afghanistan," Stonestreet said. "Our job was to travel along roads, locating and safely disabling improvised explosive devices planted by the enemy."

On one mission, Stonestreet and his platoon were hit by an IED.

"We were on a mission Jan. 12 when we hit an IED that disabled our vehicle," he said. "Moments afterwards, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the ground and exploded 30 meters away from us. Thanks to our training, we reacted immediately; however, we did not get a look at the people firing the RPG, so we could not engage them."

During his deployment, Stonestreet also had the unique opportunity to help train Afghan Nation Army members in the basic techniques of route-clearing.

"We had the Afghan National Army EOD team following us on every mission we went on," Stonestreet said. "We trained them [on] how to properly conduct the route-clearing."

The dedication of Stonestreet and his platoon enabled the ANA to eventually stand up the first all-Afghan EOD team in Helmand Province - a major accomplishment.

Stonestreet's mission while deployed was far different than his daily job at Whiteman.

"Here at Whiteman, we don't do route-clearing," Stonestreet added. "We do train and do maintenance on our equipment, which is similar. Also, I don't get a chance to work with members from other military departments."

Master Sgt. Robert Randall, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron NCOIC of EOD plans, said Stonestreet has always been motivated to learn everything about his career field since his arrival from technical school.

"Although he faced some difficult times while deployed, such as an IED strike against his vehicle, Sergeant Stonestreet persevered and always stayed in the fight to ensure his specialized counter-IED skills could be used to ensure other Service members were shielded from the threat of IEDs," Randall said.

"Without the [route-clearing] mission in Afghanistan, there would be a lot more vehicles and people struck by Improvised Explosive Devices," Stonestreet said. "This would cripple the supply routes, leaving remote bases without vital supplies needed to fight the war."

Overall, Stonestreet said he enjoyed his first deployment.

"The best part of the deployment was all of the good people that I met," Stonestreet said.