6th RTB Soldier deploys via CRC

Aca,!Ac SPC Jon Kofron, 24, heads to Afghanistan for the first time
Aca,!Ac CRC acts as a weekly "distribution point," processing about 270 personnel deploying to 36 different countries
Aca,!Ac Kofron also spent a year in Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division

Vince Little, The Bayonet

Facing his first Afghanistan tour, SPC Jon Kofron isn't overly concerned about the delicate security situation there. He said he'd simply rely on his preparation and mechanics.

The 24-year-old Army automations and systems clerk was among a few hundred personnel in a recent batch processed for deployment by the CONUS Replacement Center at Harmony Church. He's assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Ranger Training Battalion, at Camp Rudder on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., but was expected to join the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul for the next six months.

"I'm not worried about it any more than I was before," Kofron said of his second trip overall downrange and the potential dangers. "I remember my training and take it seriously. You don't let fear block your focus. I know it's there, just deal with it and go with the flow."

Fort Benning's CRC plays a key role in America's deployments by funneling service members, Department of Defense civilians and military contractors to 36 different countries - including Iraq and Afghanistan - on a weekly commercial flight out of Lawson Army Airfield, said 1LT Steve Stewart, the unit's C Company commander. About 270 depart Freedom Hall every Friday.

Two other companies also handle the rotating cycles, while D Company is responsible for redeployment arrangements.

Stewart said about 75 percent of the deploying personnel are DoD contractors. They come from all over the world, but everyone arrives Saturday to begin a week of training, paperwork and processing.

"We're a distribution point," he said. "On flight day, for security purposes, passengers are given no details other than it's flight day. We don't tell them when it leaves or anything about the route in advance.

"At the terminal, they can get a hot meal, sit in the air conditioning. There are free reading materials ... We give them a few briefings, then they're on their way."

During the week, Kofron and other Soldiers took part in roadside-bomb scenarios and other tactical training, also courtesy of the CRC.

Kofron, of Wakeman, Ohio, said he feels better prepared than he did four years ago before going to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.

"I'm ready to go," he said. "The first time, you feel kind of lost, not sure what to do or where to go. I'm not nervous or frustrated this time. It's just time to go."

In November 2006, Kofron wrapped up a yearlong deployment to Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah in east Baghdad, a frequent target for mortars and rockets, he said. One day, about three weeks before he left, the base got rocked by 25 blasts in 45 minutes. No one got hurt but some buildings were damaged, he said.

Kofron, who's been at Camp Rudder for two years and will return to Florida after the Afghanistan deployment, said he was married while away in Iraq. But he and his wife, Kelly, now have two children - daughter Elle, 2, and 8-month-old son Justin. The family is living in Ohio until he gets back.

In Afghanistan, Kofron will work as a bandwidth management technician, he said. Like many other Soldiers, he'll spend free time working out in the gym and also play video games occasionally.

"I'll try to keep moving all the time," he said.

Kofron admits the separation from family will be tough but offered a message to his wife and kids.

"I love them all, and I'll see them in six months," he said.