From the Frontlines: Staff Sgt. Matthew Alexander
By Heidi Hunt, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 04, 2012
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo --
Military deployments are commonly understood as the movement of troops to special or specific locations. The challenges and circumstances these service members face may not be realized by those not accustomed to the military lifestyle.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Alexander, 509th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of reenlistments, was deployed to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing as a Rest and Recuperation Liaison Officer for Allied Forces Central Europe in Southwest Asia. Alexander returned to Whiteman July 2 following a five month deployment.
While deployed, he processed R&R leave forms for Air Force members on 365-day temporary duty assignments, and was a liaison between distinguished visitors who would go on R&R.
"We synchronized members' R&R travel by coordinating with the local Schedule Airlines Traffic Office, Afghan, Iraq liaison officer's via theater gateway," Alexander said.
The importance of his mission was ensuring that the individuals were able to receive their R&R in a timely manner and had the proper documentations.
"An essential part of the mission was when distinguished visitor's arrived from their deployed location from Southwest Asia into Kuwait, we provide and assisted them key information in regards to their travels," Alexander said.
Alexander said the biggest difference between his duties at home and his deployed duties was the significant time he spent supporting DV visits.
"I gained a wide range of knowledge and a better understanding of what DVs go through in other duty locations," Alexander said. "Sharing discussions with the DVs and hearing about their experiences are stories I will never forget."
This is the sergeant's third deployment and said the most rewarding part of the deployment was the people he worked with and the connections he made.
"I also met personal physical fitness goals," he said.
Combined with his ambition to meeting mission requirements, he also volunteered as the sergeant at arms on the 5/6 Council, an organization comprised of staff sergeant selects, staff sergeants and technical sergeants who contribute and volunteer in the community.
He also participated in numerous exercises, and when his scheduled permitted, he was always willing to step in and help out.
Combined with his work ethic and community involvement, it's not uncommon for Alexander to take on a superior role, according to his deployed supervisor, Tech. Sgt. Aron Mueller, 509th FSS food service provider.
"Even with the 12-hour work days and six-days in a row, Sergeant Alexander still volunteered his off time to help ensure the mission was completed successfully," Mueller said.
While Alexander said he had a unique experience during his deployment, he missed his wife and children and is glad to be back at Whiteman AFB.