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Deployed instructor uses TV to boost morale

Sergeant Davis uses a compass to make sure the azimuth of the AFN satellite dish is correct at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan.  (Courtesy photo)

Sergeant Davis uses a compass to make sure the azimuth of the AFN satellite dish is correct at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan. (Courtesy photo)

Sergeant Davis travels to remote locations, like this one in eastern Afghanistan, to bring broadcast service to American military forces.  (Courtesy photo)

Sergeant Davis travels to remote locations, like this one in eastern Afghanistan, to bring broadcast service to American military forces. (Courtesy photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- For Staff Sgt. Lance Davis, being a morale booster has been his most rewarding role during his deployment to Afghanistan. 

Sergeant Davis, who's scheduled to return to the states this week, has been a visual imagery and intrusion detection systems instructor in the 338th Training Squadron for nearly four years. 

In his second deployment to Bagram Airfield, he's working for the American Forces Network as noncommissioned officer in charge of broadcast maintenance. 

"I work 10 hours a day, six days a week," Sergeant Davis said. "I maintain an FM radio station, five video editing suites, six video cameras and a satellite system used to send daily newsfeeds to the Pentagon Channel. I also assist the cable maintenance team that travels the whole country to make sure everyone has AFN television service." 

Sergeant Davis pointed out that boosting the morale of deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen with something as simple as television is the best part of his job. 

"I took one trip to eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border," he recalled. "All of the people at the forward operating base were Army infantry who hadn't had television for more than a year. We got their satellite dish set up for them, and we got so many thank-yous just for giving them something to watch in their downtime. It was very rewarding and made me feel like I was doing something good for the mission." 

Sergeant Davis lives in a wooden hut with seven other people. 

"We have a tent with gym equipment and a recreation facility that shows movies every Saturday night on a big screen TV with surround sound," he reported. "Our dining facility is just down the road -- the food isn't the best, but it's free, so I can't complain." 

Although there's not much interaction with Afghan citizens, Sergeant Davis commented, "It seems like most of them like us and are happy that we're here. One local national that works in our building always talks to us in the hallway. He calls us his friends and is always happy to see us." 

Deployment has given Sergeant Davis a broader view of the Air Force and the armed services in general. 

"I've learned how the Air Force is changing into more of a joint environment," he remarked. "When I first joined six years ago, we were never taught to carry weapons with us at all times. I'm supporting not just the Air Force, but every single branch of service that is fighting the global war on terrorism. 

"The other services aren't that different from the Air Force," he continued. "The Army is pretty gung-ho about taking the fight to the enemy. I have a lot of respect for them -- they're asked to spend a year or more deployed away from family and friends."
Being separated from his wife, Anne, and his 4-year-old son, Alex, has been the biggest deployment challenge for Sergeant Davis. He and his wife are expecting their second child in August. 

"I've mostly missed the little things, like playing with my son and not having to walk 300 feet from my bed to the latrine in the middle of the night," he admitted. 

Sergeant Davis said his deployment will be a plus when he returns to the classroom. While in Afghanistan, he's had the opportunity to work with one of his former students, Senior Airman James Karns. 

"Back at Keesler, we're currently adding air expeditionary force equipment course, and I'm working on most of it over here," he pointed out. "I'll also be able to tell my students what it's like to be deployed to a hostile environment."