Air Defense 'Family' Returns
March 2, 2007
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 1, 2007 - As they near the end of their second deployment together, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Pyles, Air Defense Air Management platoon sergeant; Army Staff Sgt. Edson Caupp, ADAM assistant operations noncommissioned officer; and Army Sgt. Eugene Sefranek, ADAM cell assistant noncommissioned officer; all of whom serve with Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, have become "like a family."
The three have served together since arriving at Fort Drum, N.Y., between 2001 and the summer of 2002. The three soldiers started their military life together in 3rd Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Regiment, also part of the 10th Mountain Division.
After the formation of the 3rd BCT, they transferred over to the new brigade together, Sefranek said.
"It's easier to work with them after four-and-a-half years. You learn their mood swings, their habits," said Caupp.
The bond persisted from Fort Drum to Bagram Airfield, where they served during their first deployment, to Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Jalalabad, where they served during their current rotation.
"We have gotten so close, we can communicate without words," said Pyles.
"Being together that long, you learn the ins and outs of your teammates, you really get to know each other," Sefranek said.
While still in the 3-62nd, they went on their first deployment together, Operation Enduring Freedom IV.
The three recalled moving through a vastly different country three years ago.
"Convoying from Bagram to Kabul was something," Safranek said.
"Last time we were in Afghanistan we had to take our radar to Kabul, and while we were driving through downtown Kabul, the power steering went out," Caupp added. "The three of us were freaking out, especially when on the way back we got cut off by a truck, but we were just real careful and nobody else noticed. It's shared experiences like that that really bond you."
The team members shared not only adventures, but a large part of their military lives, watching each other develop from junior enlisted soldiers to noncommissioned officers.
"I got Sgt. Caupp when he was an E-2 and I watched him grow to a staff sergeant," Pyles said.
"Caupp came to 3-62, and I was his team chief - I took him to his E-5 board," Sefranek said. "When I first started working with Sgt. Pyles he was a specialist - we've all been together a long time."
"We're all at the point where we'll find stuff hilarious that no one else will," Caupp said.
History repeated itself in early 2006, when the tightly knit team once more deployed to eastern Afghanistan, this time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VII.
"The shared history made it a lot easier to deploy together again," said Pyles.
With months still ahead of them, they have their Army family to keep them going and are ready to fulfill their duty and complete the mission.
"It is definitely more than just a professional work relationship -- we are a family," said Caupp.
The ADAM team members manage airspace to facilitate brigade fires and effects efforts. As they close in on the end of their second OEF tour, they said they remain committed to their mission and the people of eastern Afghanistan.
"The Afghan people need help and it feels really good to help them," Sefranek said. "And knowing each other so well, it is easier for us to work together and get it done."