By Sean Barron
Within a few months, Master Sgt. Victor Rivera likely will return to his job delivering mail.
For now, he’s happy to see something being delivered to him: normalcy.
“We worked, slept and ate; that was pretty much it,” Rivera said Wednesday at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, referring to his latest tour of duty near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Rivera, a 1989 Campbell Memorial High School graduate, was one of about 13 reservists with the 910th Airlift Wing who returned Tuesday after spending four to five months at Kandahar Air Field in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was part of the 76th Aerial Port Squadron, a cargo-handling unit responsible for loading and unloading heavy equipment, vehicles and supplies for delivery by C-130 Hercules and other aircraft.
Rivera said he typically worked the midnight-to-noon shift six days a week at a cargo-processing area and was responsible for incoming and out-going equipment that included food, ammunition, clothing and vehicles.
Rivera plans to return to his job in March as a letter carrier with the Campbell post office. For now, however, simply enjoying a bit of down time with family and friends is on his radar screen.
Another long trip is on the horizon for Staff Sgt. Andrew Straub of Struthers, but this time, his cargo might consist of only a suitcase.
“I’m planning on going on vacation within a few weeks to visit my brother in California,” said Straub, a four-year reservist and 2005 Cardinal Mooney High School graduate who worked for General Extrusions.
Straub, who left for Kandahar in early September, said his primary duties were to make sure cargo was properly accounted for and to load and unload it. Straub worked a lot with forklifts and K-loaders, which are vehicles to transport cargo to and from planes on pallets, he explained, adding that he usually worked from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. six days each week.
Sleeping in, spending time on a computer and talking to family took up a large chunk of his off days, Straub said.
Fourteen- to 18-hour days in Afghanistan were common for Senior Master Sgt. Scott Spackman of Niles, who joined the military about a month after graduating in 1982 from Niles McKinley High School.
Spackman said he’s grateful to have worked with British and Canadian forces, which also allowed him to make new friends.
Spackman was mainly in charge of ensuring that the cargo, passenger service and ramp sections of his area worked properly, he explained.
Now that he’s re-entered civilian life, what will the 28-year military man’s immediate future entail?
“I’ll probably sleep for a week,” Spackman said, adding that he also intends to visit his daughter, Kaleem, a Kent State University student, then look for a job or consider another deployment.
“I’m very proud to have them home after so many months,” said Maj. Brent Davis, chief public- affairs officer for the 910th.
A few more reservists are scheduled to return to the air reserve station from duty in the next couple of weeks, Davis added.