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Spouse orientation a mobilizing' experience

By By Connie Myers / special to The Star
April 8, 2004
At 0700 hours on 7 March 2004, 25 excited spouses gathered in the dining facility at Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian for an experience of a lifetime. They had been mobilized.
Actually, they weren't mobilized for military duty, but rather for a spouse orientation flight. After receiving their "personnel folder" complete with a copy of their invitational travel orders and dog tags, they made their way to the supply warehouse to get outfitted with a Kevlar helmet and web belt.
Then it was on to the mobility line, where representatives from Personnel, Legal, Medical, Military Pay, Chaplain and the Family Program Office briefed the spouses on deployment issues and mission requirements.
With helmets and web belts on, they went to Operations for their intel, medical and pre-flight safety briefing. They were also treated to a chemical warfare suit demonstration with one of our spouses as a model.
Then it was finally time to board the KC135 and fly off to refuel a B52 bomber. The spouses were thrilled to be allowed to be in the "boom pod" to watch the actual refueling.
After a short three-hour flight we arrived back at Key Field safe and sound. One of the highlights as we touched down at Key Field was to be greeted by the husbands and children and members of the Student Flight holding welcome home signs and waving flags.
All of this would not have been possible without the tremendous support from the personnel at Key Field. The events of that day confirmed what we already suspected that in the Air National Guard there is no job more important than another.
The men and women of the 186th Air Refueling Wing are professionals who work as a team, demonstrating that there is certainly more to the mobilization and deployment process than just packing a suitcase and leaving home.
From the Security Forces who checked our ID cards at the front gate to the young men and women in the Student Flight, they all have a common goal completing the mission or task assigned.
A very special thank you to all the men and women, from the briefers to the airplane crew, who took such special care of us and made that a day we won't soon forget.
Connie Myers is Wing Family Program Coordinator for the Meridian-based 186th Air Refueling Wing.

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