Matt Pawlusik, 23
Photo: U.S. Air Force
Born and raised: Ilion, New York
Graduate of: Ilion High School
Airman 1st Class Pawlusik is a Third Country National (TCN) Escort.
"TCN's are really important to our quality of life here," he said. "We don't deploy with
barbers and tailors, but we need people who cut hair and can sew on rank,
especially since we are deployed for long periods of time. These people are
not from the U.S. or our host nation, so they need someone to help them
interface with other people here, and expedite tasks that would be hard for
them in this foreign environment. Not that I speak their language, but I
spend enough time with them that it's easy for me to communicate with them,
even though they speak broken English."
"Most of the TCNs I escort are from India, so I've learned a lot
about their culture," he added. "Things most people would never know."
Why Airman 1st Class Pawlusik joined the Air Force: "Both of my parents were
in the Air Force, and I joined for the educational opportunities. My goal
is to take advantage of those opportunities and try to see the world."
Regarding his hometown, Airman 1st Class Pawlusik said, "The whole
town pretty much works at one factory or they farm. The main farming
products are corn and cattle. The cattle aren't raised for beef; they're
for dairy products."
Thanks for all the e-mails. Everybody was really supportive and it makes me
feel good to know that you care about what is going on over here.
Lisa from Wisconsin, you made me laugh. Thanks, I will definitely
enjoy my first long shower and drive in my car. I guess this can sound a
little silly, but it's the little things about home that you miss. Well, of
course, I miss the big things too, like my sisters and parents, but for now
I'm hanging in there.
Deanna from Pennsylvania, that is so great that you said what you
did because I do care about you and everybody else back home. That's why
I'm here. I hope you are having fun and enjoying yourself with your friends
at home. I can live vicariously through you.
As for how the war is going, I think that because we've been here
for a while and we've been waiting for something to happen, in a way, we
are a little desensitized. Not that we aren't remaining vigilant, but in a
way that is hard to explain. I'm just glad I'm able to do my job as well
now as I did before we went into Iraq. I'm really happy that we were able
to save the one POW held in Iraq, but at the same time, it is really hard to
take the news that there were others who didn't make it.
Generally, I get the news of the war the same way you do, on
television. I have my own little snapshot of what is going on over here
and my chain off command disseminates information about the bigger picture,
but the national media helps to fill us all in a little better. Part of my
snapshot is that the weather is getting a little warmer. That means our
highs hover at around 100 degrees. In a month, we'll be well into the
triple digits, which is insane. We're working 12-hour shifts right now,
without a whole lot of time off, but when I can, I like to lay out and get
some sun, go to the gym, and listen to music. So I try hard to squeeze in
some "normal" time, or just time to do some of the same things I would do
even if I weren't deployed to a desert location.
Everybody take care, and thank you again for writing to me, they are
the highlight of my week.
Hey, my name's Matt Pawlusik. I'm an Airman 1st Class stationed at the
405th Air Expeditionary Wing at a Classified location in Southwest Asia.
My Air Force duty is to be a TCN (Third Country National Escort).
As you know, the war with Iraq has started and so I'm feeling anxious, excited and
nervous at the same time. My job hasn't changed much since the start of the
war. The duties are the same. One way it has changed is that we're at a
heightened alert. So, as you can imagine, we have to be more on our toes,
and be ready for any situation.
When I found out the war kicked off, I was on my way to work, and I
had some time so I stopped at the recreation center where there's a TV and I
watched to see what was happening on the news. To be honest, I'm pretty
pumped, and I think that Saddam is better off not in power. I know there
are protesters out there, and that's their right. It's what we're fighting
for. But in this case, I think they are wrong. Iraq is an oppressed
country, and the people there deserve the right to not be under that kind of
Being deployed in the desert is tough. It's tough to be away from
home and all the comforts of home, but after a while, you adjust and make
friends. That makes it tolerable. We live in tents, it always seems to be
windy, and sand is in everything. I stand out in the sun all the time doing
my job, and the heat can get unbearable sometimes. It's kind of weird, but
I kind of zone out to it.
I've been here close to two months and I'm not sure when I'm
leaving. But when I do get home, the biggest thing I'm looking forward to
is a long shower (we can only take short ones here because our water supply
is limited), listening to my car stereo and driving. I miss driving.
But until then, I'm proud to be here doing my duty. I hope this
makes a difference and after all of this is over, that the world is a safer,
-- Matt, Airman 1st Class Pawlusik
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