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Pope Airman gets first taste of different world

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kate Wetherby
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
While some adjust to a new home and location, Airmen half way across the world are getting used to a new way of life down range. Some view it as a struggle but others see new opportunities waiting for them.

Senior Airman Thomas Vance, 43rd Communications Squadron client systems administrator recently returned from his deployment to Iraq, and had only positive aspirations for his time down range.

"The first month took a lot of adjusting and getting acclimated to the 12-hour shifts," stated Airman Vance. "At times it was overwhelming but eventually the days did not seem long enough."

At his deployed location, Airman Vance worked as a client systems technician ... a job that he has been doing since he arrived at Pope. His primary duties are to re-image computers by re-installing Microsoft operating systems onto the hard drive. He also dealt with trouble shooting networks and systems, which is normally performed directly at the location where the network issues are. In the Deployed environment however, he found that job would be different than what he anticipated.

"At Pope I re-imaged all the computers but downrange they had a separate shop dealing with that responsibility," said Airman Vance. "I also was not used to doing most of the network trouble shooting over the phone along with windows related issues."

As he adapted to the changes he also had the opportunity to learn and help other crucial career fields in the Air Force.

"During my deployment I helped the Pararescuemen and TACP's troubleshoot their networks on a regular basis," expressed Airman Vance. "It was interesting to get to know them and learn about the jobs they do. It exposed me to another side of the Air Force many people don't have the opportunity to see."

Though he enjoyed his experiences down range, his deployment came during the time when his wife was due to deliver their second child.

"When I found I was going to deploy I was excited and at the same I was disappointed that I was going to miss the birth of my daughter," said Airman Vance. "The Red Cross was extremely accommodating during the birth and set up Web-cams so that I could be there during the delivery. Even though I wasn't physically present, I still felt emotionally connected being able to see my wife with my newborn daughter and talk to them."

While being able to connect with his family back home, he also was impressed at how close-knit his work center and the base was.

"Our shop spent most of our free time together and were our own family away from home," said Airman Vance. "This made being away from my family less difficult and the time go by quickly."

I kept myself busy with volunteering around the base and I was able to meet other interesting Airmen."

According to his supervisor on Pope, none of Airman Vance's achievements down range were surprising to him. "Senior Airman Vance has always been a consistent hard worker and motivated," Tech Sgt. Kenneth McDaniel divulged. "He has always been a key part to our organizations family and we are glad to have him home."