From the Frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Melissa Reynolds

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Meiko Schill
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Melissa Reynolds, 131st Bomb Wing Medical Group optometry technician, returned in March from her deployment to Southwest Asia. She was deployed for six-months to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Host Nation Coordination Cell where she worked as a customs and immigration liaison.

The sergeant helped bridge the cultural gap for Americans and local officials and examined immigration applications, visas and passports and interviewed persons traveling in and out of the country.

Sergeant Reynolds handled deportations, contraband confiscations and transaction reports. She said she enjoyed providing communication between Department of Defense civilians, military contractors, servicemembers and local officials.

Sergeant Reynolds was given the job as shift leader and led a team of seven non-commissioned officers in the immigration and customs processing of more than 123,000 multi-national forces in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Enduring Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

The primary mission of the HNCC is to facilitate and coordinate all interaction between the U.S. military and the host nation government to include any customs, security, immigration, infrastructure and frequency management related issues.

This was Sergeant Reynolds first deployment and she said welcomed the chance to serve her country overseas.

"Becoming familiar with active duty mentoring and leadership guidance was a great opportunity," said Sergeant Reynolds.

While deployed she was able to get to know members of the 509th Bomb Wing who were deployed there.

"We talked about the things we liked and missed about Missouri, and it was nice to build friendships with people that I will interact with in the future," she said.

Sergeant Reynolds said that small comforts from home like care packages with her favorite foods and blanket from home made the deployment much more pleasant. She was also touched when she received two care packages from an elementary school in Missouri. The students enclosed pictures and homemade cards thanking Sergeant Reynolds for her service.

"Learning a different country's culture was a challenge I embraced," Sergeant Reynolds said.

Capt. Tony Cambron, HNCC's immigration officer in charge, said Sergeant Reynolds is a dedicated and professional NCO.

"She was my night shift NCO conducting host nation relations while deployed to Southwest Asia. She was eager to learn, adapt and was flexible," he said. "On many occasions, she utilized her ability to think on her feet to make several key decisions. Her continuous smile and positive attitude kept her shifts morale "sky high." I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve with Sergeant Reynolds and have the upmost respect for this sharp NCO."