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Airmen experience deployment to Kenya

Security Forces Airmen pose for a photo during their 2017 deployment to Kenya. While in Kenya the Airmen provided security for the base defense operations center. (Courtesy photo)

Senior Airman Kyle D'Antoni, 366th Security Forces Squadron response force member, smiles with a child in a Kenyan village during a recent deployment. Before this picture was taken, D'Antoni taught the child how to open a soda can. (Courtesy photo)

Security Forces Airmen pose for a photo during a deployment July 3, 2017, in Kenya. Security Forces members ensured base security during the deployment. (Courtesy photo)

Airmen from the 366th Security Forces Squadron prepare to depart a plan upon their arrival in Kenya during a recent deployment. The trip to Africa took approximately seven days. (Courtesy photo)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Editor’s note: This article is a follow up to a previous article, “Security Forces returns from Kenya deployment,” published Dec. 22, 2017.

Members of the 366th Security Forces Squadron recount their recent deployment to Kenya in support of safeguarding the establishment of a U.S. Air Force Base Defense Operations Center.

After completing pre-deployment training and a week of travel, the security forces Airmen finally arrived in Kenya.

“When I first arrived in Kenya, I was sort of in shock,” said Senior Airman Travis Caldwell, 366th SFS response force leader. “It looked just like I thought Africa would look … there was jungle, dead grass for miles, and more wildlife than I’ve ever seen running around in my life.”

Their primary mission was to provide security for the camp. Day-to-day duties included; safeguarding the gate, securing the camp perimeter and performing routine patrols for 12 hour shifts.

During their shifts, they would frequently encounter wildlife such as Vervet monkeys.

“They would constantly come into the camp and steal our food right in front of us, you could be less than a foot away,” said Senior Airman Kyle D’Antoni 366th Security Forces Squadron response force leader. “There was one we named Reggie. He had two different colored eyes, so he was easy to spot. He was a lot more aggressive than the others, and he would always try to size us up.”

Because the base was so remote, communication was difficult. Their primary forms of communication were through Wi-Fi and mail.

“The Wi-Fi was spotty but we were grateful to have it because it wasn’t a necessity,” D’Antoni said.

Senior Airman Nicholas Esposito, 366th SFS response force leader, described an instance when the Wi-Fi tower gave way and the entire BDOC lost connectivity.

“When the Wi-Fi tower rusted out I was working, sitting at the desk area and all of a sudden you just hear a big sound, and the tower fell,” Esposito said.

When the tower fell, many Airmen had to resort to sending written letters, which could often be a long process.

“One rough thing about the deployment was the fact that we were truly stranded from civilization,” Caldwell said. “Any mail from home usually took one to two months to get to us so we often felt disconnected from the world.”

While off duty, the Airmen kept busy by going to the gym or recreation room, as well as participate in outdoor activities such as fishing.

Even though there wasn’t too much to do, they also chose to occupy their time by being innovative and resourceful.

D’Antoni decided to use his time to create a Personal Security Detail.

The Personal Security Detail consisted of D’Antoni and Airmen who volunteered to help people see the nearby area safely.

“We would go to the village on our off days and there were little shops there where you could buy sculptures or paintings; It was pretty cool,” D’Antoni said. “We also donated Pop Tarts, T-Shirts, and candy. The kids loved us.”

Caldwell described life in Kenya as being a life changing experience.

“Times got rough out there in the middle of nowhere, but we always made sure to keep each other’s spirits and morale high,” Caldwell said. “If I had to go back today, I would want every one of those guys out there with me.”

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