By SOF Editor on Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:20am
Members of the 887th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron officially ended operations during a deactivation ceremony Dec. 3 at Camp Bucca, Iraq.
The furling of the squadron guidon marked the end of the squadron's three-year partnership with the Army providing counterinsurgency, detainee operations and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.
The 887th ESFS was activated in May 2007. During that time, squadron members endured 40 improvised explosive device detonations, cleared another 16 IEDs, and withstood multiple small-arms attacks.
As a result of their accomplishments, they've been awarded more than 1,000 medals, including the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal. They have also received five Purple Heart Medals for combat injuries.
"This is a unit with a myriad of accomplishments and successes," said Col. John Williams, the 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "Some of those successes and accomplishments were a first for an Air force unit. Although these accomplishments belong to 887th, they wouldn't have been possible without the full support and backing of our sister services."
Airmen of the 887th ESFS were awarded the Army shoulder sleeve insignia from the 16th Military Police Brigade and the 45th, 50th and 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.
"It's been a great experience having 887th as part of the team," said Army Lt. Col. Bradley Anderson, the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment commander. "One might expect that different services might experience a certain amount of friction when tasked and organized together, but this experience has disproven that theory. In fact, the integration of our units was so seamless the Air Force should issue you all crossed rifles and change your name to expeditionary infantry squadron."
Over the past three years, the 887th ESFS Airmen adapted to an ever-changing mission. Originally tasked to provide detainee transportation security and outside the wire patrols, the squadron staff seamlessly integrated a detainee visitation program and Raven-B and Scan Eagle unmanned aircraft programs.
During that time, the squadron staff managed 3,000 theater internment facility visitors a week; processing more than 140,000 in last year alone. The squadron also conducted more than 6,500 outside-the-wire patrols, covering more than 100,000 miles of roads as well as 1,500 Raven-B and 200 Scan Eagle operations.
"You never complained although conditions could sometimes be inhospitable and dangerous," said Maj. Larry Wood, the 887th ESFS commander, addressing his squadron. "No matter what the task was you always made it look easy. I truly believe that is one of the best squadrons in the United States Air Force and it has been an honor to have been part of the team."
Colonel Williams had a simple message for the Airmen of the 887th ESFS and those in attendance at the ceremony.
"Our Airmen were called to serve and they answered that call," he said. "From the first Air Force members who arrived here in 2007 to the folks standing here today, they came to serve their nation in a time of war. They did knowing the hazards and knowing what was at stake. As the servicemembers and employees of this base slept they knew our defenders in the 887th were out there patrolling the roads and manning the berms. As we roll up the flag today we remember this history our service here and know we leave with the mission well done and in the hands of our capable Army brethren."