***image1***More than ever before, Airmen are serving combat deployments traditionally filled by the Army and Marine Corps. Because of sister-service personnel shortages, Airmen are serving in-lieu-of, or ILO, the Soldiers and Marines who would normally execute these combat missions. Ramstein’s Master Sgt. Ralph Zanfagna is one of them.
In Iraq alone, nearly 1,700 Airmen are assigned in this capacity. They are administratively and operationally controlled by the 732nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group at Balad Air Base. The combat Airmen are then tactically deployed to Army and joint organizations at more than 60 forward operating locations throughout Iraq.
Sergeant Zanfagna successfully completed a tour of duty supporting the Army’s 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and was recognized with the Army Achievement Medal for his service in Iraq. A Providence, R.I. native, Sergeant Zanfagna supported the Army mission by serving as the battalion commander’s Emergency Response Program NCOIC.
Sergeant Zanfagna, a 22-year veteran, compiled, submitted and completed more than 250 CERP reconstruction and humanitarian projects totaling more than $30 million for Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction.
He heads back to Ramstein, where he is assigned as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Command program manager.