The Air Force is a family thing for the Radford men

OKEECHOBEE — Veteran Wayne Radford joined the Air Force and went to basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He was trained to be a part of the military police. “Back then it was called security police,” he said. “But, in 1995 or so, they changed it to security forces.”

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Veteran Wayne Radford joined the Air Force in 1987.

He was sent to Plattsburgh Air Force Base in New York when he completed his training, and he spent almost three years there. While he was there, he was responsible for aircraft security on the flight line, and they also had missiles on the base they had to secure. There were fire teams on the base that would respond to incidents. He was there for almost three years.

Then he was sent to Osan Air Base in Korea. It was a little different there, he explained. They had aircraft there, but they also did airbase ground defense. They had a lot of exercises where they would go into their defensive fighting positions, and they would be attacked. They were responsible for a certain area around the base. Some guys used Stingers, which would lock onto the incoming aircraft and track them. These were shoulder-fired weapons. They would track the incoming aircraft and hopefully hit it, he said. He was not one of those with a Stinger, though. These were only exercises they were doing, he said. Most of the attacks were from the ground.

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Wayne Radford poses with a camel in Bahrain.

After he was there for a few months, he was chosen to be a part of a heavy weapons team, went to 50-caliber machine gun school and was certified. The remaining time he was over there, when they had exercises, he was on the 50 cal. gun. He never had the opportunity to go to the DMZ, but he did visit Seoul once when his wife came to visit. He spent a year in Korea and then got out of the Air Force.

He came back to Okeechobee and did construction for about a minute, said his wife,. About three months after he got out, he joined the reserves and got into a unit down in Homestead. He spent 27 more years with them. He drove down there once a month until he retired in May 2018. His job down there was pretty much the same thing, he said — security police. When he first went there, it was an active duty base, and just a few months later, Hurricane Andrew hit. He was supposed to be going to Italy, but instead, they sent him to Homestead to help out.

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Veteran Radford poses at the Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan.

At first they put them up at Patrick Air Force Base, but then he started going to MacDill once a month until they reopened the base, but it was strictly a reserve base then. They took all the active duty out. “Our main job was to deploy, so when we went down there every month, we would train, train, train,” he said. “They would send us off maybe to Texas to train. It was a lot of training.”

In 1999, he was sent to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch. In 2001, he went to Bahrain for Operation Eagle Resolve.

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Sitting in Saddam Hussein’s chair in a palace in Baghdad is veteran Wayne Radford.

Every year, they were sent somewhere on a short two-week deployment somewhere, like Germany or Italy or somewhere in the states, but after 9/11, things changed. He knew he was going to get the call, he said, and in October 2001, it came. He went down to the base, and he was gone for about a year and nine months. Within that time, he went first to Seymour Johnson in North Carolina for about four months, and then came back to his home base but was almost immediately deployed to Camp Snoopy in Qatar for Operation Enduring Freedom. He was supposed to be there for four months but ended up staying seven months. He came back, and right away was sent to a training in Nevada. He hurt his knee at the training and ended up having knee surgery, so he didn’t end up going on the next deployment after all. He was deactivated and came home.

In 2005, he made a humanitarian trip to El Salvador. They went as the security force for a group building medical clinics and schools. This was not considered a deployment but was on a volunteer basis. Their base was tasked with it, and they had to send bodies, so they asked who wanted to go, and he volunteered. Those types of things usually lasted about two weeks, he explained.

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Trained on the 50-caliber, Wayne Radford is pictured here at Camp Snoopy in Qatar.

In 2006, he was deployed again and was sent to a place called Kyrgyzstan, which is one of the old Soviet republics that once made up the U.S.S.R. He had many different jobs over there. He was in charge of training new airmen as they came in. He was in charge of the armory and the supply. He had a personal security detail for their base commander. He was there for six or seven months.

At the end of 2009, he went to Iraq on an anti-terrorism team. It was him and an officer. They were responsible for making sure any deficiencies in the base were fixed. They did vulnerability assessments at different bases. He was there for about seven months. That was his last deployment.

He has worked for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for 27 years.

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Stationed on Osan Air Force Base in South Korea, Wayne Radford is pictured with an M-60 and an M-16.

He and his wife, Stacy, have been married for 32 years. They have two sons, both of whom joined the Air Force. Mom is proud of them, but said it is a lot different having her children deploy than it was having her husband deploy. At least they can talk to them, though. It’s not as difficult to reach them as it was when her husband was deployed.

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Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Radford retired from the United States Air Force in 2018 after serving his country for 31 years.

“It was a good 31 years. I was fortunate enough to make E-9. I guess it was worth staying in so long. I credit my wife for that,” he said.

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