SANTA RITA, Guam - The A.B. Won Pat International Airport was flooded with tears of joy as three heroes returned home to Guam after a thirteen-month individual augmentee (IA) tour, Feb. 2.
Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW/FMF) Christopher Atkinson, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SS) Timothy Wood Scott, and Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Matthew Dent, all of Naval Security Forces Guam, were greeted as they departed their plane by dozens of jumping, screaming, and crying family members, friends, and shipmates.
The three Sailors had successfully completed a grueling IA tour in support of Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) detainee operations.
According to Command Master Chief (SW/AW/SCW) John Lawry, of U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG), tours at JTF-GTMO can be grueling and test a Sailor’s discipline and resolve. “I can tell you that these Sailors were challenged every day, and they performed admirably.” he said.
Capt. Richard Wood, commanding officer, NBG, stressed that such operations would not be possible without service members willing to commit to IA tours. “That whole operation is very heavily reliant on individual augmentees like the Sailors we sent down there,” Wood said.
Lawry said that he was confident that the command sent the right Sailors on IA, and that he knew that they would be able to rise to the challenges they would face, and represent their command in the right way.
“We don’t pick just anybody to represent us on IA. We want people who are going to represent our base and our island proudly,” he said. “So these were what we’d consider ‘cream of the crop.’ They’re the Sailors we want representing us in the prisons; representing us to the public. I would call them topnotch, quality Sailors.”
According to Atkinson, though it was difficult being away from his family for so long, and the job was challenging, he is happy and proud to have completed another IA tour. “The mission they’re doing [at JTF-GTMO] is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a tough assignment, but the job we were able to do was phenomenal.”
Ward agreed with the chief’s sentiments, and said that he was happy to learn new things and do his part in the overseas effort. “There’s definitely a lot of pride when you complete your mission and do a good job,” he said. “Everyone works hard down there, so you feel great satisfaction when everything goes right on those long, hard days.”
Though he expressed a great deal of joy at the success of his IA tour, Ward said he was even happier to be back with his family. “I’m very happy to be home with my daughter, who turned 7 months today,” he said. “I am extremely happy right now.”
Atkinson, who was surrounded by his son and two daughters, echoed his shipmate’s feelings. “I’m so grateful to be with my kids again,” he said. “I don’t think words can ever express what it’s like.”
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam.