May 17, 2012

Vietnam veteran from 95th CS hears call of duty again, heads to Afghanistan

by Kenji Thuloweit
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Charles Ivory, 95th Communications Squadron program analyst and acquisition project specialist, sits at his desk on his final day at Edwards Air Force Base before flying out to Fort Dix, N.J., May 7. A Vietnam veteran, Ivory, 66, will undergo final pre-deployment training before heading to Afghanistan to serve as a contract specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He volunteered through the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce Program.

During a commander’s call last year, Brig. Gen. Robert C. Nolan II, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, asked airmen who have been deployed to stand and be recognized for their service. He then asked those airmen who have been deployed multiple times to raise their hands.

Most of the airmen raised their hands high.

That may be regular life and duty for these warriors, but for one 95th Communications Squadron civilian at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., seeing all the hands in the air was a call to duty.

“I feel we tend to allow the GIs to do all the heavy lifting when we should share if we have the skills and experience to make a difference,” said Charles Ivory, 95th CS program analyst and acquisition project specialist.

Although Ivory had been thinking of volunteering to deploy to Afghanistan for a while, he decided now was the time to make a move.

“I applied for the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce Program through USAJOBs. I wanted some career broadening experience and wanted an opportunity to support U.S. Forces in the area.”

Ivory, who is 66-years-old, said the pre-deployment process was a little daunting, even for a retired Air Force captain.

“The pre-deployment training I completed was the same that active duty Air Force personnel have to take. I took all the online courses, qualified on the M-16, did the chemical warfare training with the mask and suit. It is hot at Edwards, that almost did me in,” said Ivory.

He added that he completed hands-on training in buddy care along with cultural training for the Area of Responsibility.

Ivory departed the High Desert May 7 and will undergo final deployment training at Fort Dix, N.J., which he will complete May 18.

In an e-mail, Ivory said his Fort Dix experience is going well.

“Training is good and I appreciate what those young guys of all services have to do down-range every day. It is really a young man’s game out in the field but us old dogs still know a little.”

He is no stranger to combat zones. From 1969 to 1970, then Air Force Staff Sergeant Ivory served in Danang, Vietnam, as an Airfield Field Management specialist working in Base Operations and fighter squadron OPS for the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing.

He retired as captain in 1989.

“When I first learned that Mr. Ivory was deploying, I thought that was commendable,” said Vincent Doss, Installation Deployment Officer.

“I was further impressed when I learned he served his country in Vietnam more than 40 years ago. Mr. Charles Ivory is the definition of an American Airman and has shown what service before self truly means. Thank you Sir.”

Ivory said not all jobs in the AOR require an armed uniform service member to do and if he can take a position in Afghanistan so one service member doesn’t have to return, or can do something else, then he’s all for it.

He will serve as a contract specialist supporting the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for 365 days in Afghanistan.

“What I am doing is not for everyone but it is the right thing for me at this point in my life,” Ivory said.

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