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From the Frontlines: Senior Airman William Peters

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
In December 2011 the U.S. withdrew its last troops from Iraq to end Operation Iraqi Freedom. Senior Airman William Peters, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations, was deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, from July 2011 until February 2012 and held a critical position in helping our troops pull out of Iraq.

After bases throughout Iraq shut down, Peters and his unit were among the last to complete the final pull-out for the 424th Medium Truck Attachment.

Peters, whose convoys frequently took him into Iraq, had the opportunity to be deployed during the historic time period. This meant a lot to him as he remembers being a young boy when the war began.

His duties while deployed were similar to those at Whiteman because they both involved moving equipment from one place to another.

"At Whiteman you were never worried about your life when you went on a mission," said Peters. "Whereas the dangers in Iraq had me on my toes at every moment.

"On one trip into Iraq we had maintenance issues and were stuck in a sketchy area," Peters said. "We decided to keep moving considering our destination wasn't too far away. We turned a corner and nearly 12 vehicles passed the same spot before an improvised explosive device detonated on one of our cargo trucks."

The experience was a close call for Peters, but because of the training he received before his deployment his instincts kicked in.

"We could all see the flash and feel the shake of the explosion," Peters said. "We all got into position to protect ourselves. Luckily it was a single attack and there were no major injuries to anyone in our convoy."

Peters said he never had a typical day while in Kuwait. While on base at Camp Arifjan, he had a bunk bed with a sectioned off area for privacy and a variety of places to eat but things changed when he went out on missions. He could be sleeping on a cot in a shack or tent with holes in it, or even on the ground.

Missions were long for Peters as they had to take certain routes, and at times could only travel at night.

"One mission had us take anti-mortars out of Iraq and these were the biggest pieces of equipment we ever moved," Peters said. "Because of the sensitivity nature of the weapons, the missions were strategically conducted."

"The best part of my deployment was closing out Iraq," Peters said. "I was just a kid when 9/11 happened and I've grown up most of my life during this war. To be part of closing our efforts in Iraq was a big deal for me."

Overall, Peters said he enjoyed his first deployment, but he did miss a few things about home.

"I missed all the sights and smells of home while deployed," Peters said. "Of course, most of all, I missed my family. You never knew if you were talking to them for the last time. It was great coming home and seeing their faces again."

"From the day Peters arrived at Whiteman, he expressed that he wanted to deploy," said Tech. Sgt. Wil Keen, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations control center NCO in charge. "When he received his tasking, he was very excited. I am glad he was able to experience convoys before it ended. I think it has helped him grow as a person and a vehicle operator."

Peters added that if he ever got a chance to deploy again he would definitely take it.