SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- While most of her co-workers are helping servicemembers deployed here return home, one traffic management specialist is moving in another direction.
With the deployment rotation in full swing, Senior Airman Latasha Ireland, with the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, has work to do. As the only one in the traffic management office who ensures servicemembers from elsewhere in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility redeploy home, her job is no easy task.
“It can get hectic at times,” said Airman Ireland, who is deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. “But it keeps me busy. I’m in a position to help people get to see their families.”
Whether it is Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines coming from Iraq, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa, she is the link that brings thousands of people one step closer to home.
While the concept of redeployment is simple, the process of doing so is another matter. Airman Ireland said she drafts an itinerary based on the information she receives from a servicemember’s unit travel coordinator. She submits that with three copies of orders to the travel office to books flights. After the flight is confirmed she coordinates the travel schedule with the person redeploying. However, she said a lot of things can happen in between the notification and departure date.
Travel dates and flying missions constantly change, and servicemembers may also have to extend their deployment. As a result, Airman Ireland said she must make changes.
“I can pretty much count on doing it twice,” said Airman Ireland, who once had to make 100 changes in a day because of rescheduled release dates. “People get frustrated, but I remember they are not upset with me.”
Airman Ireland had the experience for this job, having worked passenger travel at Ellsworth. However, she was slated to deploy to another location working, but TMO here needed someone with experience.
“She typifies a ‘Mission First’ mentality every time, all the time,” said Chief Master Sgt. Florendo Palting, the 379th ELRS TMO flight chief. She said Airman Ireland processed more than 6,200 reservations through Air Mobility Command airlift and commercial airlines worth $5.7 million and processed 399 commercial airline ticket refunds, recouping $212,000.
Along with the rest of her co-workers, Airman Ireland works long days -- especially during heavy rotation periods. However, she said she realizes the importance of her job and believes it is all worthwhile in the end.
“Sometimes people … come in to see me and thank me for getting them a flight here so they can go home, and that feels good,” Airman Ireland said.
Somewhere between helping her customers, Airman Ireland is preparing for her departure. One of the reasons why she said she continues to work long hours is to ensure her replacement is prepared for the job.
“I want to leave the job in a better place than how I found it,” she said. “That’s one of the things they say here. I want to do that.”