820 BDG Airmen exceed one million man-days deployed

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christian Little
  • 820th Base Defense Group

Since the reactivation of the U.S. Air Force’s 820th Base Defense Group in 1997, the Group’s Airmen have been deployed for 1,058,576 man-days as of November 2023.

The 820th BDG is a self-contained, rapidly deployable force charged with defending air bases capable of providing their own communication, tactical vehicle, civil engineering, intelligence and medical support. The group specializes in providing resilient basing options for air forces in non-permissive environments.

“We take pride in the fact that when the BDG is tasked to go somewhere, it’s for a reason,” said Lt. Col. Justin Bateman, 822d Base Defense Squadron commander. “We’re out there to safeguard our fellow servicemembers, and our presence will ensure they’re able to return to their friends and families.”

Each man-day deployed represents a day one of these BDG Airmen have spent away from their families and homes dedicated to their mission of ensuring the safety and security of others.

“This is a true testament of what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rowland, 820th Combat Operations Squadron training instructor. “We train to deploy. We’re here, we’re ready to be utilized. This is why we need to keep working hard and never stop training.”

During this timeframe, 820th BDG Airmen have deployed to at least 24 different countries and 50 operational bases providing air base security, humanitarian assistance and ensuring the servicemembers they’re protecting stay safe and are able to provide the warfighting functions needed throughout decades of combat.

“Our Airmen should be proud of the legacy they have created,” Bateman said. “When you take over command of one of these units, you’re leading Airmen who are going to take part in dangerous missions and defend air bases in a variety of environments. It’s a huge honor and responsibility.”

The job comes at a high personal cost, but it’s one the BDG Airmen have accepted, for some, that means suffering injuries, but for others, it means sacrificing their lives so others can go home to their families.

“That’s your brother and sister out there, from the commanders all the way down to the Airman in the fight,” said Marcus Smith, 822d BDS unit deployment manager. “We’re one team — it doesn’t matter where you come from.”

These Airmen quickly realized their dedication to the mission and each other also meant taking care of their brothers and sisters once they returned home.

“We realized at an early stage that we have to find how we can support each other when we come back,” Smith said. “We had to develop an inner program to take care of each other. The sun isn’t gonna shine every day, but we have to believe it’s gonna be a sunny day.”

These Airmen remain dedicated to those who came before them and continuing to provide elite air base defense.

“Thank you, it has been an honor to follow in your footsteps and continue on the group’s legacy,” Rowland said about the contributions of former BDG members. “We’ll keep trying to push your legacy forward.”

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