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Dover security forces reservists return from Iraq

Staff Sgt. James Black and 12 other security forces reservists from the 512th Security Forces Squadron deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, earlier this year and returned to Dover Air Force Base, Del., in July. While he was at Kirkuk, Sergeant Black patrolled the base perimeter and worked in the towers where he monitored the surrounding area for potential threats. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo)

Staff Sgt. James Black and 12 other security forces reservists from the 512th Security Forces Squadron deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, earlier this year and returned to Dover Air Force Base, Del., in July. While he was at Kirkuk, Sergeant Black patrolled the base perimeter and worked in the towers where he monitored the surrounding area for potential threats. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Thirteen Airmen from the 512th Security Forces Squadron here returned from a six-month deployment to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, at the end of July.

The reservists, assigned to the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, provided base defense operations such as perimeter security, entry control and base patrol.

The city of Kirkuk is about 250 kilometers north of Baghdad and has more than 750,000 residents. More than 4,000 U.S. personnel work at the air base, which is on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

Units serving at Kirkuk include the 506th Air Expeditionary Group; the U.S. Army's 18th Engineer Battalion; the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division; the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division; and, the U.S. State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Master Sgt. Raymond Mooney led the first team of Dover AFB security forces specialists who ranged in ranks from senior airman to master sergeant. Two 512th SFS teams are still serving with the 506th ESFS.

It was a deployment of firsts for Sergeant Mooney and some of his teammates. While he has deployed before on active duty, this was the first time the reservist was charged with being a team leader.

"It was a challenge to have full responsibility for the team," said Sergeant Mooney. "Some people were stressed about leaving their families, so I tried to keep the morale up and keep the team focused on accomplishing the mission."

Staff Sgt. James Black, 512th SFS, said the toughest aspect of his deployment was leaving behind his pregnant wife, Shanah, now in her ninth month of pregnancy.

"It was hard to leave her behind knowing she would be going through the majority of her pregnancy on her own," he said.

This was the first deployment for the Lower Merion, Pa., policeman who enlisted into the Air Force Reserve in 2004. At Kirkuk RAB, Sergeant Black patrolled the base perimeter and worked in the towers, where he monitored the surrounding area for potential threats.

"It was a good experience to see the broader aspect of the Air Force mission and how we operate in a deployed location," he said.

Sergeant Mooney, a U.S. Capitol police officer, said he also increased his knowledge of security forces operations. This was the first time he worked in a base defense operations center, a command and control facility that serves as the focal point for base security and defense.

"It was a learning experience working in the BDOC," said Sergeant Mooney, who added the base was attacked 16 times while the team was there. "The first time was a little intimidating. After that, it became somewhat normal. Fortunately, nobody was injured while we were there."

While the team conducted their pre-deployment training together at Mineral Wells, Texas, they worked in different areas and shifts on Kirkuk RAB.

"It would have been great to have been able to work together," said Sergeant Mooney. "But despite this, the group did really well.

"I'm proud of the team and how they represented Dover AFB," said Sergeant Mooney. "During this whole process, from the pre-deployment training throughout the deployment, everyone maintained a positive attitude and had a lot of enthusiasm despite the long days and long nights. We made a positive first impression and led the way for the two 512th SFS teams who followed us and are still serving there." (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)