All of the airmen who deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base at the start of the year are back home.
About 140 airmen deployed in December and January for a few months to areas in the Middle East and returned in waves this summer.
Staff Sgt. Jason Brown returned in July from Qatar, his second deployment.
At Malmstrom, he’s assigned to the the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron and was doing the same work while deployed with about eight others from his Malmstrom shop.
The second deployment went well since he had one under his belt.
“The first deployment is always kind of rough and you don’t know what to expect,” Brown said.
This time, he benefited from some lessons learned the first time around, such as bringing an extra uniform with him while traveling since the first time he didn’t and was stuck wearing the same one for days when he was delayed en route to his deployed location.
His other advice? Take sunglasses. “It’s the whitest sand you’ll ever see. It’s blinding,” he said.
His daughters are now 10 and 7. During his first deployment they were too young to really understand what was going on, but “this time they knew. They missed me,” Brown said.
The girls had school, friends and other activities to pass the time while dad was gone.
“I think it was more difficult for me this time,” he said. But they kept in touch through Face Time and scheduled times to talk. The girls attend Loy Elementary, where more than 90 percent of the students are part of military families and look out for each other when parents are deployed.
During his first deployment, his wife and daughters were in England so there was only a five-hour time difference, but this time it was a 10-hour difference, creating an added challenge for scheduling times to call his family.
Brown joined the Air Force when he was 25, so he was older than many first-time deployers on his first trip, “but it was still kind of shocking.”
Of the approximately 140 airmen who deployed from Malmstrom, 54 percent were first-time deployers, 52 percent are married and nearly 40 percent have children.
The majority of those airmen are from the 341st Mission Support Group, and the rest are from the 341st Security Forces Group, 341st Operations Group, 341st Medical Group and the 40th Helicopter Squadron.
The high number of first-time deployers is significant, Col. Denise Cooper, MSG commander, said in January.
For those leaving families behind, there’s extra stress in making sure they’re squared away, and Brown said it can be tougher on families since the spouses are often left doing double duty while the service member is gone.
“They have a lot to do,” Brown said.
The base hosted and organized a variety of events for the families during the deployment including a painting night with Brush Crazy and a Malmstrom Idol event, among others.