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By USAF Sr. Airman Stephen Linch

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A Story Of Love, Marriage And A Couple's Service To Country
(November 23, 2009)

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Capt. Kieran Dhillon-Davis, the newly arrived chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services at an air base in Southwest Asia, speaks to her husband, Capt. Luther Dhillon-Davis, the departing chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services, Nov. 13, 2009, before his departure. Captain Kieran D. recently deployed here and took her husband’s position as he redeploys home.
Capt. Kieran Dhillon-Davis, the newly arrived chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services at an air base in Southwest Asia, speaks to her husband, Capt. Luther Dhillon-Davis, the departing chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services, Nov. 13, 2009, before his departure. Captain Kieran D. recently deployed here and took her husband's position as he redeploys home.
 11/18/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS)

He was there, and then he was gone. It was just a glimpse in the night of Oct. 31. She continued to exit the C-130 Hercules that had just landed at this air base in Southwest Asia, still scanning her surroundings to see if it could be.

Then she saw him. Her face lit up as she joyfully greeted her husband at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing reception area.

Although she was ecstatic to see her husband for the first time in six months, Capt. Kieran Dhillon-Davis, the newly arrived chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services, didn't come here to see him, but to take his place.

According to Captain Kieran D, her job is to ensure mission readiness by providing mental health services to Airmen and Soldiers. Such support includes individual therapy, tobacco cessation aid and suicide awareness training. She also focuses on behavior change and stress and anger management.

Capt. Luther Dhillon-Davis, the departing chief of the 380th AEW Mental Health Services, soon would return to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, the couple's home station. However, for now he was focusing on managing the hand-off and preparing his wife for a successful stay.

"I was eagerly anticipating her arrival," Captain Luther D said. "I was and still am excited to get to share with her this transition."

Over the next 14 days, Captain Luther D facilitated the transfer by seeing patients alongside his wife, providing her with continuity, detailing location specific information and showing her around the 380th AEW.

He noted how grateful he was to spend time with her over the changeover period saying it was the "closest thing to a traditional mid-tour break," they would get.

The couple became acquainted when 23-year-old Kieran Dhillon enrolled in a neuropsychology class on the nature of emotion in the summer of 2002, after seeing 24-year-old Luther Davis's name on the class' roster at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif.

Over the next four years, Luther Davis would create a holiday for his college sweetheart, "Blue Day," named after her favorite color and a commemoration of their engagement. Both would join the Air Force and start their residency, and they would combine and hyphenate their last names in a wedding ceremony at a winery in Temecula, Calif.

They celebrated their third wedding anniversary separately on the May 28, shortly after Captain Luther D left for his deployment. They knew there would be sacrifices when both entered the Air Force.

The couple agrees that getting deployed back-to-back is not an ideal situation, but they are learning to deal with the challenges it brings.

"I've had to learn how to be supportive without being there physically," admitted Captain Luther D, a 31-year-old Wichita Falls, Texas, native.

When the couple informs people of their situation, the response they normally receive is, "Geez, that sucks! Why couldn't they work something different," he said.

According to Captain Kieran D, their career field is critically undermanned and constant deployments have left a shortage of Airmen capable of deploying. Both acknowledge that this situation could have been far more stressful if they were deployed to separate locations.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, recently spoke of the expeditionary requirements during a speech at the Air Force Association Convention in Washington D.C., saying, "This unexpected demand for Airmen with special qualifications has resulted in a deployment tempo, the likes of which we have never seen before."

Significant numbers of Airmen are deployed around the world. Some 40,000 of the 330,000 strong force are supporting combatant commanders, said the general.

"The vast majority have served on multiple deployments, with no doubt more in their future," he added.

In overcoming the impact of two decades of deployments, General Schwartz said, "America can always count on the U.S. Air Force to deliver. More accurately, it is our Airmen who will deliver."

Now the two weeks were up. The couple sat beside each other, smiling, laughing and getting lost in somber moments of silence, moments that soon were ended by the realization that the KC-10 Extender was waiting on the ramp to take him home, and the two would have to say good-bye, again.

In the upcoming months, Captain Luther D will re-integrate back into the 82nd Medical Group and serve the Airmen of Sheppard AFB, and Captain Kieran D will continue to hold the line as the 380th AEW's only clinical psychologist.

Reflecting on her husband's departure, the 30-year-old Redland, Calif., native said she has only the mission-at-hand on her mind, and intends on, "Doing what I have been called out here to do, just like everyone else."

The 380th AEW provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and aerial refueling in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

By USAF Sr. Airman Stephen Linch
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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