In a small yet intimate gathering at the Salt Lake City airport, family members and friends of the 151st Air Refueling Wing sent off a small group of Warfighters for a deployment to the Middle East. Among that small group was Maser Sgt. Dave Beaumont, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the group and a member of the Tooele Army Depot workforce.
This is Beaumont's seventh deployment in his 27-year-long career with the Air Guard as well as his last. Including four years of active duty in the Navy and two years in the Navy Reserve, upon return from this deployment Beaumont will retire with more than 30 years of military service.
A motor vehicle operator at TEAD, Beaumont started out working at TEAD after his active duty tour in the Navy back in 1977. "I may be Air Guard but I will always claim Navy," he said while reminiscing about his years in the Navy.
As a sailor, Beaumont worked on board a ship for more than two years and deployed to Korea, Vietnam and Okinawa. While at sea, he was part of the crash crew responsible for refueling, launching and landing aircraft. Because he knew how to type he was pulled into an administrative position which he said helped save him from some of the more grueling work on a ship.
Upon completion of his time in the Navy, Beaumont returned home to Tooele, Utah, to start a family and began working at TEAD, but he also remained a member of the Navy Reserves. After two years of trying to balance his family life, work and reserve duty requirements, he realized he was going to have to give the uniform up.
"He would fly out on Fridays for Alameda and return Sundays," said Sandra, Beaumont's wife of 32 years. "The problem was we didn't know when he would return so we would sit and wait for hours at a time. It was hard on everyone including the kids."
While waiting for his wife to browse at a fair in SLC, Beaumont started chatting with a fellow 'waiting husband.'
"I don't even remember how the military came up, but he asked if I knew how to cook and told me to check out the Air Guard." Shortly after that Beaumont's service in the Air Guard began in the services career field.
Sandra admits the first few years of being married to a military man were hard; it was a different culture and a different experience. But 32 years later she still stands by her husband and supports what he does every step of the way.
"We feed them, clean them, entertain them, house them and bury them," said Beaumont, quoting an instructor who taught him the ropes of the services field. While deployed or at home, services specialist are responsible for lodging, food services, recreation, linen exchange and mortuary duties. It is multifaceted field that requires personnel that can adjust rapidly and effectively to an ever changing mission.
"In this field, we don't always know exactly where we are going and or what our specific mission is going to be until we have boots on the ground," Beaumont said.
During his time in the Air Guard Beaumont has deployed to various countries including, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, and Europe. While all his deployments have been different in many ways, he said he has enjoyed every single one of them and has never felt his life to be at risk.
Support for the Warfighters is unwavering - 45 percent of the workforce are veterans and there are 35 reserve component servicemembers members working at TEAD out of which five are currently deployed. Many of them fall under Harry Olson, Ammunition Support Supervisor, and Beaumont's supervisor.
"We are always encouraged by their dedication to duty," Olson said, adding that it is a double-edged sword. "You worry about them while their gone, and you also lose an integral part of your team. But we completely support what they do. We hope and pray for his safe return home and we will be thinking about him while he's over there."
Some government employees who also wear a uniform are lucky enough to see their work come to fruition. During one of his deployments Beaumont and his team had the opportunity to tour an area where ammunition was stored and distributed. While there he spotted ammunition that came from Tooele Army Depot. "I saw the box and thought 'hey, we sent that here, that came from us,'" Beaumont recalled. "When you get to actually see (the ammunition) on the ground and see how it makes it to its final destination and how it will be used, it at all makes sense."
"Every time he deployed I would get a great big knot in my chest," Sandra said. "I just felt horrible. This is his last deployment and as I see him go I just feel sad. I feel sad that this is the last one. It has been such a big part of our lives for so many years that it is hard to let some of those experiences go."
The Beaumont's would like to thank their families, church members, neighbors and friends for all their support throughout the years, "we could not have done it without them," they said.
"Some people have forgotten why we are out there and have forgotten the importance of what we do," Beaumont added. "It means a lot when just one person says thank you or when the people you work with support you."