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Deployed: Contracting Airman serves special operations forces

ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. -- An Ellsworth Airman deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, has a unique look into the continuing Global War on Terrorism.

Senior Airman Angela Hepworth, contingency contracting officer for Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula is actively supporting special operations forces ensuring the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who operate in the world of special warfare have the equipment they need.

"My job in the deployed location has much more responsibilities than at home," she said. "I am able to sign my own contracts, which means I can personally obligate the government to a commitment."

She's up for the challenge.

Tech. Sgt. Brandy Allen, 28th Contracting Squadron contracts specialist said, "Angie is an exceptional Airman. She can tackle any size project with 100 percent accuracy. In my 10-year career, she's the best Airman I have had the privilege to supervise. She has taken on a huge responsibility and is more than capable of handling what's thrown her way."

A young senior airman having the responsibility of binding the Nation to a legal document is not the only unusual aspect of her job.

"I work for the Army specifically supporting special operations," she explained. "And, it's not every day (at home station) a mortar lands 50-yards from your building."
It's the fact she supports spec-ops as an Airman is one reason she is satisfied with her job.

"Just the fact I support special operations is unique," Airman Hepworth said. "I get to purchase a lot of tactical gear and other things the (special operations forces) may need to complete a mission or raid."

Living in the special operations world has a few other perks.
Airman Hepworth said being deployed helped her realize just how important her job as a contracting troop is and that in itself is satisfying.

"There are raids being accomplished all the time by our special operations teams and being able to support them is pretty rewarding," she explained.

While working in the joint-service environment is rewarding to Airman Hepworth, it also has its quirks.

"I work for the Army," she said. "CJSOTF has Navy here as well. The most challenging part of working with different services is learning the ranks. My favorite response I've been given so far is, 'I'm not a sir. I'm a sergeant. I work for a living.' "

Airman Hepworth refers to her deployment experience as one she'll never forget.
I've met many different people and cultures while forward deployed and have learned to appreciate what we have in the United States, she said.

"The best part of this deployment is seeing what really goes on (in a deployed environment)," she added. "I've always heard everyone else's stories and now I can bring back my own."

Airman Hepworth is scheduled to return to Ellsworth in January.