From the Frontlines: 1st Lt. Tom Meltzer

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
More than 6,000 miles from this Air Force Global Strike Command base, 1st Lt. Tom Meltzer, 509th Operations Group chief of target intelligence, was called to serve his first deployment at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Meltzer departed Whiteman May 2010 for six-months and trained at the 186th Refueling Wing Air National Guard, in Meridian, Miss., for four weeks, where he learned rudimentary details about his deployed duties before returning to Whiteman.

"I trained for intelligence support for the MC-12W aircraft, which are both in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lieutenant Meltzer. "I learned about the aircraft, its capabilities and how to provide support."

The MC-12W Liberty is a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. The primary mission is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, to directly support ground forces.

"The current air tasking order process which the military uses to plan the war does not allow for the flexibility needed by the ground force commander when fighting an unconventional war," he said. "Therefore, we would coordinate directly with the supported units to ensure mission specific objectives were communicated hours before the aircraft would take off."

We would put together mission information of target plans, mission objectives, and schemes of maneuver to enhance crew member's situational awareness in order to better support the warfigther on the ground."

During his day-to-day duties, he briefed air crews members before flights; two pilots, one a sensor operator and a cryptologic operator, and informed them of specific mission requirements.

"We monitored the mission and bridged gaps," he said. "After the pilots landed we followed up by providing feedback and an evaluation of the situation. It was a learning process for everyone involved."

"My deployment was rewarding," said the southern Florida native. "The benefits outweighed the negatives and provided me with the satisfaction of knowing the mission was complete while facing new experiences."

Lieutenant Meltzer's deployed duty was different from his duty. As an intelligence officer, he has a broad overview of military intelligence training.

"My deployment allowed me to work with people I never would have otherwise," he said.

Nonetheless, the lieutenant said he missed his family and is happy to be home with his wife.

"I can't put a price on time spent away, but I did my best to stay in touch through video and telephone," he said.

The 509th OG welcomes his return.

"We are grateful for the military service he has provided and glad to have him back safe," said Maj. Deano Busch, 509th OG supervisor.