Ramstein Airman Returns to Kuwait as an Officer Published Oct. 26, 2021 By Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait -- The young man heard a low buzzing in the air, the sound of a roaring box fan from the sky as he was out for physical education with his friends. He looked up to see a C-130 Hercules flying above The American School of Kuwait and spoke to himself wondering where it came from when his friend quickly pointed out that it most likely flew from Ali Al Salem Air Base. U.S. Air Force Maj. Thomas Morgan, a C-130 pilot and duel hatting as the deputy chief of Plans and Programs as well as the Wing Operations Center director for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, recalled the moment with fondness as years have passed since then. “Back then, military bases were a mystery to me as my Dad worked in the oil field and I wasn’t sure what actually went on behind the barbed wire and barriers,” Morgan said smiling. Morgan said that while with his friends, they were mostly concerned with finding someone who could go on American military bases to get them sodas like root beer and Dr. Pepper and other sweets. Looking back now Morgan says he understands how those experiences growing up in Kuwait impacted him. “As a kid I knew I always wanted to be a pilot,” said Morgan, originally from Alamogordo, New Mexico. “I had a neighbor when I was in New Mexico who was an F-117 [Nighthawk] pilot at Holloman Air Force Base who influenced this dream. When 9/11 occurred, I was a freshman at the American school of Kuwait. Watching the aftermath of 9/11 unfold, especially from such a geopolitically significant location, instilled a sense of patriotism in me that I know many others felt in the wake of the attacks.” Morgan made the decision to pursue those aspirations when he enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at New Mexico University. Coming back to Kuwait influenced Morgan in how he led the plans and programs and the wing operations center with the recent evacuation of Afghanistan nationals and Americans during the Non-combatant Evacuation Operations. He stated that his experiences with Kuwait’s generous hospitality gave him additional guidance when planning and prepping for the evacuations and how they would be treated while transiting. “Being ‘on the other side of the fence’ is a unique opportunity to be able to continue to work with Kuwaitis and foster relationships with the host nation in an official capacity,” Morgan stated. “In the early days of NEO, for example, I had the chance to work with our Kuwaiti Army and National Guard counterparts to ensure requirements were being met for both nations to guarantee a successful NEO transition process. I’ve realized that Kuwait is one of our most important allies in the region and will likely be for years to come.” Since returning, Morgan made a point to see old friends and visit old places, and made sure to bring some of his new deployed teammates along with him. “I learned that Morgan had lived here before through coworkers in the plans and programs shop,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Perry, the 386th AEW Plan and Programs chief. “Tommy’s friends have shown a level of kindness and hospitality I have yet to experience anywhere else, warm and inviting to their homes and quick to engage in conversation.” Perry said that during NEO operations that Morgan’s experiences and contacts from Kuwait gave him additional resources to lead and communicate well. “When things move fast sometimes people fail to communicate key information across a wide audience,” Perry said. “Recognizing a need, Morgan built a central communication platform to foster better communications. Overnight participation went from a handful of users to hundreds of users all communicating key NEO information across the base. I feel I lucked out having Morgan on our team. He and his friends have made this deployment memorable.” "The generosity and willingness of the Kuwaiti people to offer their resources to the Central Command mission-set allowed coalition forces to have a successful NEO and produces the foundation for a steadfast, enduring presence within the Middle East," Morgan said. “NEO is just one of many examples of how Kuwait has been a dedicated ally and friend to the American presence in the region,” Morgan said. When he departs ASAB, Morgan will return to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as a C-130J Super Hercules instructor Pilot.