HomeNewsArticle Display

Airmen react to Hussein’s capture

KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Master Sgt. Eugene LaDoucer watches as Lt. Gen. Richardo Sanchez conducts a press conference.  Sanchez announced the capture of Saddam Hussein on Dec. 14.  LaDoucer is assigned to the 506th Air Expeditionary Group public affairs here.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams)

KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Master Sgt. Eugene LaDoucer watches as Lt. Gen. Richardo Sanchez conducts a press conference. Sanchez announced the capture of Saddam Hussein on Dec. 14. LaDoucer is assigned to the 506th Air Expeditionary Group public affairs here. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams)

KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- There was cautious enthusiasm here the afternoon of Dec. 14 when rumors began floating that Saddam Hussein, the ace of spades in the “55 Most Wanted” deck of cards, might have been captured.

For most people, the sound of gunfire outside the perimeter gate was nothing out of the ordinary, as small-arms fire happens here on a regular basis. However, this would turn out to be anything but an ordinary occurrence.

Senior Airman Heather Gondek, of the 506th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, woke up when she heard the celebratory gunfire, but said she thought it was just another firefight.

“I thought, ‘Here comes an alarm red,’” she said. “And then I woke up and heard the giant voice tell us to put on the flak vest and helmet. Then someone else came in and told us that we may have caught Saddam. I was excited. I thought it was really cool that we finally got him.”

Chaplain (Maj.) Pete Lambert, a Catholic chaplain, was in the middle of Mass with 20 people when he heard the gunfire.

“All of a sudden we heard all these gunshots going off. It got so intense that some (people) got up and ran out to see what was going on,” Lambert said. “It must have been about 11:45 a.m. We just continued Mass. At the end of Mass, the group commander announced it was celebratory (gun) fire because there were rumors around town that Saddam Hussein had been captured.

“I was very happy, but cautious because so far it was only (a) rumor,” he said. “I checked the Internet, and there was nothing there. Maybe half an hour after that, they talked about the possibility he had been captured. Later, I went down to the medical tent and there was (a) press conference with the general and the pictures of Saddam. It feels good.”

Reactions from 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron airmen were similar.

“I’m glad they captured Saddam Hussein,” said Airman Ronald Beltran, of the 506th ESFS. “At first, I didn’t think it was true, but I’m glad we got him. I hope we go home soon, but if we don’t, we’ll finish and complete our mission.”

“As soon as the word came out that he had actually been captured, I went over and called my wife,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Nesbitt, also of the 506th ESFS. “She had just gotten to work. I told her and she just started screaming with excitement. She told all the people in her office, and they couldn’t believe it. They were all excited.”

Nesbitt was patrolling one of the base-defense sectors when he first heard the celebratory gunfire.

“I called my (17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son), who were at home, and they were all excited. They were watching (television) and couldn’t believe they were actually sitting down watching history take place. They see a light at the end of the tunnel, just like the rest of us. It’s a great Christmas present,” Nesbitt said.

“I was skeptical at first until I heard the confirmation on the news,” said Airman 1st Class Nicholas Tardiff, a bus driver for the 506th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. “Then I was pretty happy about it -- extremely happy about it, actually.”

Airman 1st Class Amber Taden, of the 506th Expeditionary Services Squadron, said she saw a couple of bullets from the celebratory fire land near her.

“I was walking by one of the bunkers and heard a round hit the bunker. I knew I needed to get my flak vest and helmet. I came back, and we just heard the ‘dink’ of an AK-47 round that we found on the floor of the recreation center,” Taden said.

Senior Airman Nicoal Hunter, of the 506th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, was working on the airfield when she said she heard the small-arms fire. She said her viewpoint is less about Saddam and more about the importance of the event.

“I’m just enjoying the moment right now,” she said. “Being a young airman in the Air Force, when stuff like this happens, it puts it in perspective of what’s really going on in the world. To be honest, I’m kind of happy because I joined up to serve my country. Right now I’m happy I can tell my family that I was in Iraq at this point of time in history.”

“The long-term consequence (for the base) will be good,” said Col. Dan Peabody, 506th Air Expeditionary Group commander. “I expect some short-term backlash to it. Hopefully, after a week or so even that will dissipate. The hope is that it will rapidly lead to the collapse of what resistance there is out there without any indication of a formal leader continuing (the fight).

“Even though we may not have had a direct role, we certainly have contributed significantly to the ongoing activities that led to what happened. I’m very proud of everyone here and all that they contributed,” he said.

Engage

Twitter
RT @DefenseOne: JOIN US TODAY @ 2 P.M. ET when our “State of Defense” series continues with a live interview featuring U.S. Air Force Chief…
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Teaching service members how to effectively shoot weapons. That’s the job of Combat Arms Training and Management. Watch…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Team - 25 years ago today, we lost 24 U.S. & Canadian Airmen in the Yukla 27 crash. It was a surveillance training so…
Twitter
Taking care of Airmen and their families! https://t.co/AVeidzDPcV
Twitter
Wherever Airmen go, the Federal Voting Assistance Program ensures their voice is heard. @FVAP works to ensure servi… https://t.co/tkJts1yo3Z
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we're celebrating the stories of Hispanic & Latino Airmen! @188thWG SSgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez…
Twitter
#TotalForce Airmen participate in night operations during a base-wide, total force exercise @HAFB. Airmen & pilots… https://t.co/kJYNKwHY7n
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: California fires/smoke no match for UTA Airmen - https://t.co/pJysQ6snRh (Story by the @940Wing) #ReserveReady #ReserveRes
Twitter
Whistleblowers are NOT insider threats. Learn the difference and how you can appropriately report questionable gove… https://t.co/AaTvBfHcTv
Twitter
SrA Denise Arabie, 319th Operations Support Squadron radar approach controller @319thRW, describes the importance o… https://t.co/zkwMx6Qw3i
Twitter
RT @173rdFW: "I may have lost everything, but thanks to the support we’ve found here, I’m going to be back on my feet inside of a few weeks…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official sat down and discussed how the Air Force will continue exempting Airmen from PT t… https://t.co/bWVig9fSOW
Twitter
SrA Mark Gonzalez describes how his job enables the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber to support the Bomber Task Force depl… https://t.co/sceKCtM3Pz
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Our Airmen come from all walks of life — and we are stronger for it. Staff Sgt. Kalinin, 56th Force Support Squadron ALS…
Twitter
“It's critical to have that diversity in the Air Force that we have today because it is truly through that diversit… https://t.co/RIDQDjdlCr
Twitter
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron @EielsonAirForce takeoff in support of exercise Valia… https://t.co/cf0raGgEUD
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: "This test, and others like it, can shape the future of the MQ-9, as we continue to increase its relevance in great power com…
Twitter
"We cannot rest on our laurels. It is all about the people, folks, and they will guarantee our readiness, and are f… https://t.co/BsNDUSw0wE
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: USAFCENT Airmen and coalition partners are executing missions of national, regional and global importance and Exercise Desert…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,281,142
Follow Us