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LRS Airmen recognized for their efforts overseas

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – Members of a joint military tasking including personnel from the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and British Army, congregate for a final picture here before the team members returned home. Senior Airmen Talbert Knepshield and David Haldi, both 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators, returned to Vandenberg July 11. The Airmen played an intricate role as vehicle operators on their past deployment and received medals and certificates of appreciation for their efforts. (Courtesy photo)

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – Members of a joint military tasking including personnel from the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and British Army, congregate for a final picture here before the team members returned home. Senior Airmen Talbert Knepshield and David Haldi, both 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators, returned to Vandenberg July 11. The Airmen played an intricate role as vehicle operators on their past deployment and received medals and certificates of appreciation for their efforts. (Courtesy photo)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Two Airmen from the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron here were recently recognized for their efforts during a six-month deployment to Camp Victory, Iraq.

Senior Airmen Talbert Knepshield and David Haldi, both 30th LRS vehicle operators, were tasked to a joint service operation in which both of the Airmen earned the Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Joint Commendation Medal and two certificates of appreciation from joint military commanders at their respective deployed location.

Despite having little knowledge about the tasks and duties they would perform before leaving for their deployment, the Airmen found out quickly that they would fill an intricate role.

"One of our missions overseas was to provide protective service details for a Navy admiral," said Airman Knepshield. "Primarily, these details involved us transporting the admiral to and from meetings. This task was especially important because at these meetings, the admiral was a key decision maker in the U.S. draw-down efforts of troops in Iraq."

Other than the Airmen's characteristic duties, the Airmen were asked to perform duties beyond the normal tasks of vehicle operators.

"We found ourselves involved with weapon systems training, collecting intelligence, setting up supplies, and establishing tactics techniques and procedures on top of the standard operating procedures," said Airman Knepshield.

Even though the deployed Airmen were busy learning new responsibilities, they realized the value of the experience.

"From the time we arrived to the time we departed Iraq, we noticed great improvements to the Iraqi's infrastructure," Airman Haldi said. "The roads, which were once in terrible condition, had been paved, bridges were stabilized and more guardrails were constructed along the highways. To enhance the attractiveness of their cities, the Iraqi people started painting their building walls and adding grass to places it was sparse. I got the feeling the Iraqi people have a renewed pride for their country."

The fact that the Airmen were present during such a historically monumental period for Iraq is finally settling in with them.

"There were so many memories from this past deployment, especially because we were there during this historic draw-down period in Iraq," Airman Knepshield said. "We witnessed so many changes in the past six months. I don't think there are many people out there who have actually witnessed a country undergoing that vast of change in such a short period of time."

The experiences the Airmen took away from the deployment reinforced their confidence and the satisfaction they now receive on the job.

"I feel like we played an important role overseas," Airmen Haldi said. "We were just doing the job we were trained to do, but we did it to our best and improved the efficiency of our team to support the mission. It was nice being able to have the chance to deploy. After being away for a few months, the experience really made me appreciate the United States and the great base we have here that much more."