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380AEW Article

Colorado Reservists On Duty in UAE

  • Published
  • By MSgt Dan Heaton

Senior Airman Gilbert La Febre III says he’s learned something about himself during his first deployment as a member of U.S. Air Force.

“I can bounce back pretty quick,” he said. 

Le Febre is one of about 50 Citizen-Airmen of the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing who are currently forward deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. The base came under missile attack several times in January – La Febre says that’s when he and his fellow Airmen learned just how resilient they are.

“You deal with it and then you get back to work,” La Febre said of the attacks. 

As an Air Force Reservist, La Febre serves as a petroleum, oils & lubricants specialist. Basically, that means he and his team are responsible to making sure aircraft at Al Dhafra have the fuel they need for the next mission. It’s a big task considering Air Force KC-10 Extenders, an air-to-air refueling aircraft, operate from the base. 

The 302nd is home based at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

When not serving in the Air Force, La Febre works at a Ford dealership back home. 

Air Force Reserve Airmen join seamlessly join together with active-duty Air Force personnel and members of the Air National Guard to make up the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra. The Airmen are joined by civilian partners, contractors and military personnel from across the U.S. Joint Force and coalition partners at the base and across the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.

For Senior Airman Lea Chen, another Reservist from Peterson, the deployment to Al Dhafra has exposed her to a new culture. 

A Security Forces specialist in the Reserve, Chen is a health and exercise science student at Colorado State University when not serving in uniform.

“Being in a new place, being exposed to a new culture – you can’t help but learn from that,” she said. 

Staff Sgt. Christopher Washington, another Security Force specialist – or “Defender” as they are known inside the Air Force – said his deployment has been an “outstanding experience.”

“I’ve worked closer with a number of my teammates from Peterson and I have gotten to meet quite a few new teammates,” he said. “It is being a part of the team that keeps me going.”

The Peterson Reservists are scheduled to return him in the Spring.