Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

September 12, 2011 at 3:41am

86th APS Reservists display selfless service by extending deployment

Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, 728th Air Mobility Squadron ramp supervisor, places luggage on a conveyor belt Sept. 6, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Garrelts is currently deployed here from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., a

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Loyalty and pride carry different emotional meanings for people. For instance, fully restoring an older automobile to its original showroom stature and then taking it out for a long drive is what makes a car enthusiast beam with pride. For others, it's volunteering at a local homeless shelter, tutoring underprivileged children at the local elementary school, or for some it could be serving in the military. 

The meaning of loyalty for six Reservists from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron is extending their deployments at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey after already helping to move 24,000 tons of cargo, 15,500 passengers, 13,000 pallets, and loading about 450 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Master Sgt. Alfredo Navarro, Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Cunanan, Staff Sgt. Daniel Wheeler, Senior Airman Eric Braun, and Senior Airman Daniel Henderson deployed in April to support the 728th Air Mobility Squadron, Incirlik AB and instead of coming home, they have added another six months to their current tours of duty.

"I want to be able to contribute in any possible way to get the job done and bring our troops home," said Navarro, 86th APS security manager. "I miss home and my family, but I'm doing my best to serve my country and make them proud."

The University Place resident serves as the night duty officer for the Air Terminal Operation Center at Incirlik AB.

"I volunteered to extend because I enjoy the mission here," said Navarro.

For Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, an ATOC senior controller with 86th APS, the deployment was about selfless service.

"It was a tough decision," said the father of three. "But a chance to help the new individuals coming into my section have a smoother transition, as well as letting someone else remain home with their family through the holiday season were my reasons for extending."

Senior Airman Daniel Henderson, 86th APS ramp journeyman, lengthened his deployment for continuity; not to mention being part of something larger than him.

"I know the job and the people here," said the Spokane resident. "Plus, I am proud to be part of something that is going to help in the world and not just my backyard. I signed up knowing that I would be away from home a lot and I would do it all over again."

Navarro uses his experience for personal growth that he can bring back home.

"The job I'm doing is a new experience for me," said Navarro, who works for the Social Security Administration in his other life as a civilian. "I have never worked in ATOC before, so it is a new skill that I can bring home with me. I also want to get more technical and leadership experience."

Helping ensure cargo gets where it needs to be in a timely manner is what helps keep Garrelts going.

"I get the chance to send life-saving equipment to people who need it and allow them to return home safely," said the Springfield, Ore., resident. "It makes me feel good and full of pride that I'm allowed to help my country."

Garrelts credits a strong supporting cast and an internal drive on assisting his fulfillment of the additional deployment time.

"Without the support of my family and home unit, none of this would be possible," he said. "It is an honor to serve."

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