December 20, 2005
AFA deploying dozens to Iraq
By TOM ROEDER - THE GAZETTE
More than 130 airmen from the Air Force Academy will head overseas early next month, including dozens who will go to Iraq.
More than 80 of those people are coming from the 10th Medical Group, which runs the academy hospital. Others include military police, accounting experts and managers who will help orchestrate supply flights in the war zone. Most will have a four-month stint overseas.
The deployment comes as the Air Force moves to play an increasingly larger role on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, where many beleaguered Army units are on the second or third yearlong war tours.
About 20,000 airmen are now in the Middle East.
Well be in a position to pitch in and help, said Col. Chris Benjamin, an academy doctor who will run a hospital in Baghdad. The majority of folks here are excited about going over and using their training.
The Air Force Academy is home to 4,000 cadets and 2,200 active-duty Air Force members. The academy has seen small-scale deployments since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, but the group heading out in January is nearly double the size of earlier deployments.
Workers staying behind at the academy will have to pick up the slack, said Col. Gene Tulberg, commander of the academys 10th Air Base Wing.
Its our piece of the fight, he said. We can hold our breath and get it done for 120 days.
The deployment will split Tech. Sgt. Gerald Kramer from his wife, Staff Sgt. Anna Kramer.
Hes going to Germany, where American casualties from Iraq are treated before theyre sent to home. Shell be in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic thats now a main supply hub for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Were both looking forward to it, she said.