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News > Airmen lift off with Operation Bright Holiday
Airmen lift off with Operation Bright Holiday
Operation Bright Holiday recipient, Airman 1st Class Desmond Awadzi, 2nd Force Support Squadron career development apprentice, works with his supervisor, Staff Sgt. Jessica Barron, 2 FSS career development supervisor. Operation Bright Holiday covers travel expenses for Airmen to spend time with their families for the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sean Martin)
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Airmen lift off with Operation Bright Holiday

Posted 12/21/2012   Updated 12/21/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/21/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- It was Nov. 19, 2010, when Airman 1st Class Desmond Awadzi said goodbye to his family at the Kacoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, and boarded a plane headed to the United States.

Now, Operation Bright Holiday is reuniting Awadzi with his family and helping 49 other Airmen get home for the holidays.

"We were ecstatic to learn we had the opportunity to send all the applicants home this year," said 1st Lt. Jennifer Barkenhagen, Operation Bright Holiday point of contact. "The Company Grade Officers' Council worked hard all year and we had some amazing community support."

When Awadzi found out he was a recipient, he couldn't believe it.

"This was like a wish come true," said Awadzi, 2nd Force Support Squadron career development apprentice. "It felt so good to know that I would be able to see my family after all this time."

In 2010, Awadzi was granted a permanent visa to the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Program.

"When I was interviewed for the visa, I explained that I was interested in joining the military," said Awadzi. "I didn't know which service, but I knew I had a higher calling."

He spent the first six months of his U.S. stay researching the different military services.

"I wanted to find a career that fell in line with my management degree," said Awadzi. "I found that the Air Force was the service for me, and it has given me multiple opportunities."

The ability to give back to his family while giving back to the U.S. government is something Awadzi is grateful to have.

"My sister is going through college," said Awadzi. "I am thankful I have the means to send money back to her and my family to assist with the things they need."

According to his supervisor, he more than deserved this opportunity.

"He is the model Airman for the military personnel section," said Staff Sgt. Jessica Barron, 2 FSS career development supervisor. "He is truly superb. In my eyes, he is Airman of the century."

Barron knew Awadzi wouldn't be able to get home this year without help financially, and she wasn't surprised to find out he was chosen.

There is one downfall for Barron with Awadzi's departure.

"It is going to be extremely difficult to lose him for 30 days," she said. "He is such an important part of this team."

Awadzi has not yet told his family he is coming home, and intends to keep it a secret.

"I want to surprise everyone," he said. "I just hope my mom doesn't pass out."

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