Airman returns from Djibouti; 570 Selfridge Airmen deployed in FY14

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
A Michigan Airman has recently returned after four months of duty in east Africa.

Staff Sgt. Nick Gucwa worked as a vehicle mechanic and quality assurance technician while assigned to AFRICOM at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Gucwa is a member of the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. He is one of 570 Selfridge Airmen to deploy during Fiscal Year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, 2014.

"As an Airman, I'm always open to going someplace to try to make a difference, maybe even be a part of history," said Gucwa, who works as a school bus mechanic in his civilian job. 

The Citizen-Airman said he's been to more than 30 different countries during his approximately 18 years of military service.

"Probably the most interesting and the most meaningful to me was serving in Bosnia in the middle 1990s when I was in the Army," Gucwa said. "We helped provide security for the first election there after the war."

Gucwa said his personal highlight in Djibouti was being able to interact with the local population.

"Most of the locals we came in contact with spoke enough English that we were able to have conversations," he said. "The people as a whole were very receptive to us and very open to working with us. I'd be willing to go there again."

Djibouti is located at a strategic point in the Horn of Africa and is a key U.S. partner on security, regional stability, and humanitarian efforts in the greater Horn. The Djiboutian Government has been supportive of U.S. interests and takes a proactive position against terrorism.

Gucwa's deployment in support of AFRICOM operations is just one of hundreds of examples of Citizen-Airmen from the 127th Wing at Selfridge who have forward deployed during the fiscal year.

Over the 12 month period ending Sept. 30, 2014, the 127th Wing deployed 570 Michigan Air National Guard Airmen from Selfridge for training exercises and live missions. In addition, another 122 Airmen deployed in October 2014, to start off fiscal year 2015. Michigan Airmen served in more than a dozen different countries on four continents during the past year. Over the past several years, the 127th Wing has consistently deployed over 500 Airmen to operations and/or major exercises.

"The motto on our 127th Wing shield really says it all: 'We Stand Ready,'" said Col. Philip R. Sheridan, commander of the 127th Wing. "Individually and in groups large and small, Selfridge Airmen continue to raise their hand and step forward. The service that they - and their families - give to our nation is truly inspiring."

Among the major developments in 2014 in terms of deployments for Selfridge Airmen was the conclusion of three consecutive years of "rolling mobilizations" in which the 127th Air Refueling Group continuously provided a small group of Airmen, generally about a dozen, and often one KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft to an ongoing mission in southwest Asia in support of operations in and around Afghanistan. In addition to flying hundreds of aerial refueling missions during that three year period, the Michigan Airmen flew dozens of aeromedical transport missions, helping to ferry injured and wounded American military personnel to treatment facilities in Germany or the U.S. The rolling mobilization mission concluded in June. 

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.