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378 ECS Airman provides dynamic capability

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Giovanni Sims
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing

            When tasked to deploy, troops in the U.S. Armed Forces sacrifice comfort and convenience. They leave behind their homes, friends and family to answer the call. Some depart not understanding the full circumstance of the environment they are about to enter.

            SMSgt John Snow, 378th Expeditionary Communications Squadron superintendent, was tasked to deploy from Oct. 2019 to April 2020.

            "My unit was presented with positions to fill in Africa and Syria," Snow said. "There was a lot of mixed feelings among family members because this would be my first deployment since my little brother was killed-in-action in Afghanistan, but it was something I felt deep down I had to do."

            With so much emotion and anxiety to serve in this capacity again, Snow was soon on a flight, with his wingmen, headed to Syria.

            To prepare for this tasking, Snow had to first attend a training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The day he traveled to JBMDL, the president pulled troops from along the Turkey-Syria border which raised questions for troops tasked to deploy to the theater.

            “It threw into question what was going to happen with my deployment,” Snow said with a worrisome tone. “There were rumors that began floating around but nothing concrete.”

            Upon completion of the training course, Snow and his wingmen were headed to Syria.

            “We arrived in Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait,” Snow said. “The members currently in Syria had been extended and were in the planning stages of closing down the base. I was going to be the superintendent and sole communications technician for Kobani Landing Zone.”

            Finally, Snow and his wingmen landed under the cover of darkness and were greeted with faces of relief.

            “The day we pulled troops from the border, many had returned to KLZ,” Snow said. “The limited number of facilities, issues with waste removal and the arrant number of personnel in theater at the time proved to be a terrible combination.”

            Days were long and nights were cold. Each day would average between 14 and 15 hours of work.

            “My days consisted of meetings, working equipment issues, packing up equipment and getting to know all of my troops,” Snow said. “Each day, equipment was being packed up, tents were being torn down and sites were being leveled.”

            As the time came to finally remove the remaining troops from KLZ, Snow was given the assignment to develop primary, alternate, contingency and emergency (PACE) plan to transition troops from Syria to other locations in the AOR. A process that came with unforeseen challenges.

            “It took coordination with the Army and Marines in determining the minimum amount of communications equipment we could use to get planes back in the air on the final day,” Snow remembered. “The AFCENT Communication Flyaway Kit had issues right before we were going to transition to the final days. It took a joint effort to overcome the numerous complications.”

            Those minor drawbacks didn't stop the goal for base closure.

            “Once the mission was complete, we were given the opportunity to go home,” Snow said. “I chose to stay. They ended up spreading everybody that chose to stay around the AOR. My tasking went back and forth between Iraq and PSAB. I had already served in Iraq, so the thought of finishing up with my coworkers from home, at PSAB was nice.”

            While at PSAB, Snow spearheaded the communications systems development for over 2,500 U.S. military troops.

“I was able to participate in closing down a base and building up a base, which has been pretty amazing to see,” Snow said. “I'm happy with the decision I made. There is always something to take from every experience and this deployment has provided me with lifetime of lessons.”

            SMSgt John Snow served in Syria and Saudi Arabia during his deployment. He successfully completed his mission of closing down Kobani Landing Zone to U.S. Forces and transitioning to open Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in order to reassure gulf partners of our commitment and continue to provide a credible, capable, and dynamic defense posture to deter malign actors in the region.