Thursday, October 27, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Underage drinking and personal responsibility

By Col. Michael Bauer
314th Operations Group commander

Underage drinking is a societal problem with potentially dire consequences and an issue supervisors need to be proactive in addressing. The Center for Disease Control warns us that alcohol is the most abused drug for individuals under the age of 21. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that more than 75 percent of 12th graders and 63 percent of military members under the age 21 drank alcohol at least once in the previous year. Even more disconcerting, the surgeon general determined an average of 190,000 individuals under the age of 21 are treated in an emergency room and another 5,000 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking due to car accidents, homicides and suicides.

The Air Force fight against underage drinking is not new; however, a truly effective approach or silver bullet to eliminate underage drinking has proven elusive. At its foundation, the supervisor argument is simple: underage drinking is against the law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and should not be engaged in nor tolerated. In reality, parents, guardians, teachers, law enforcement officers and public officials have preached the dangers and illegality of underage drinking long before Airmen join the Air Force. Yet, statistics and experience tells us that this simple approach is not wholly effective and Airmen begin drinking in high school and then continue after joining the Air Force.

In developing an effective strategy, supervisors must continue to be creative and search for what works best for their Airmen. As a starting point, there are some common building blocks discussed below of setting expectations, articulating consequences and encouraging peer-leaders. When combined with each supervisor’s unique efforts, these lines of attack all aim at the ultimate goal of instilling personal responsibility in our Airmen.

Airmen must understand what’s expected. The Air Force as an institution holds high standards and expects our Airmen as young adults to live by a set of core values. There’s no compromise in the values or parsing of which laws should and should not be followed. Underage drinking or providing alcohol to minors is a violation of the law and our core values. It must be clear that underage drinking isn’t tolerated and an environment that discourages underage drinking must be established at both work and in social settings.

Supervisors need to clearly articulate the consequences of underage drinking and emphasize the raised stakes since the Airman’s time in high school. The consequences include potential Article 15’s, loss of pay, loss of rank, loss of specialty codes and in some cases an early end to an Air Force career, not to mention the potential loss of life discussed above. It must be clear that underage drinking will be met with swift and consistent punishment each and every time.

Supervisors understand that they are rarely present when an Airman is confronted with the decision to drink underage, but few Airmen choose to drink alone. As an institution, we must continue to encourage peer-leadership as one of the most effective deterrents and empower them to handle the situation when it occurs. Supervisors must emphasize the importance of and enlist peer-leaders to discourage behaviors that risk Airmen’s lives, careers and unit effectiveness. Confronting a peer is difficult for most Airmen at any age, but again, being an Airman comes with high expectations and core values to live by.

In the end, underage drinking is a personal choice and Airmen must understand that personal responsibility is an Air Force expectation and standard that we must all assume as mature adults. Airmen must realize that their decisions have consequences and affect not only themselves, but their fellow Airmen and the organization as a whole. Once they elect to serve, they become part of something bigger and better than themselves and need to make decisions accordingly. Personal responsibility is truly the only effective deterrent and the ultimate goal of any campaign against underage drinking.

Supervisors must strive to build on these lines of attack, develop a solid strategy, and continually encourage and reinforce a culture of personal responsibility. This isn’t an easy fight. What works is different for each Airman, but the goal is worth the effort. Personal responsibility remains at the core of everything we do in the Air Force and the basis of our core values.

As an Airman, underage drinking is a personal choice. Make the right one!

TOP STORY > >Little Rock AFB gets tanked, saves money, energy

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Civil Engineering Squadron is finishing up an estimated $2.6 million water distribution system upgrade project on base scheduled to be completed in the coming months.

The project will replace an antiquated 50-year-old water storage tank and potable water booster pump station with a newly constructed 1.35 million gallons water storage tank and new booster pump station equipped with five state of the art centrifugal pumps said Roger Forinash, 19th CES construction management project inspector.

When completed, the new tank and pump station will enhance the quality of potable water on base and prevent the flushing or waste of more than 485,000 thousand gallons of water per month, enough to fill a giant aquarium with more than 1,500 animals.

“We flush thousands of gallons of water out of the old tank because it is made of metal.,” said Dwight Henderson, 19th CES water and fuel shop foreman. “Our hot summers would heat up the water and dissipate the chlorine. We flush to keep the chlorine level at a safe drinking level for potable water. With the new tank we won’t have to flush.”

Saving energy on flushing water is not the only aspect in which the new precast concrete tank will benefit the base, said Henderson.

“There will be better quality of water on base,” he said. “The new tank will reduce the amount of chemicals necessary to maintain potable water. It will also need less maintenance, and will save us time, money and energy.”

Henderson said the project, begun in June 2010, has been a thorough and laborious project with numerous challenges.

“It’s a cramped area,” said Henderson, referencing the project’s working grounds, populated by construction workers, construction equipment and numerous tools. “That’s a small place to work out of. We’ve been building the new tank, but are still using the old water tank while we construct the new one, keeping the base’s water supply operational the whole time.”

Forinash said that the project will not only improve the water quality on base for the long term, but is also supporting energy friendly procedures while doing so.

“The project will also add long term support and benefits to the goals of the base energy program,” he said. “In fact it was energy dollars from Air Staff that funded the project because they recognized this project will pay for itself in energy over a short period.”

A solar powered mixer will be installed in the tank to ensure uniform distribution of disinfectant and prevent stagnant water areas, said Forinash. Well-mixed tanks consume fewer disinfectant chemicals, produce fewer disinfection by-products, and eliminate the need for energy-intensive and costly deep-cycling or flushing. All of the old metal used from the old tanks and piping are being recycled as well.

While the new tank and system will buttress the base’s energy conservation agenda, it will also save them ample amounts of funds, said Henderson. The project should re-coup its cost within 10 years of completion and will save additionally unknown amounts of money in the future on facility construction.

“We’ll save a lot of money on not having to build expensive fire suppression pumps,” said Henderson. “When we built the new BX we had to install these fire suppression pumps to increase water pressure and that cost a lot of money. With the new system we won’t need those fire pumps.”

The project is only a few months from completion, and is looking like it will be finished without any problems, said Forinash.

“A lot of people didn’t even know we we’re replacing the tank and system out here,” he said. “We haven’t had the water shut down at all and haven’t had any problems with keeping the water supply on base operational. We always have to keep the water consumable and this project will make it far easier while saving energy and money for the base in the process.”

TOP STORY > >Black Knights satisfy inspectors

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Months of rigorous, strenuous and exhausting preparation, training and executing reached its conclusion for the Airmen of the 19th Airlift Wing Oct. 21, at the base theater, as the Air Mobility Command’s Inspector General team announced an overall rating of “Satisfactory” for the wing following its operational readiness inspection Oct. 11-18.

“I’m proud of the hard work and dedication of our Black Knights. The men and women of the 19th never cease to amaze me with their superb skill,” said Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “The IG witnessed first-hand the professionalism, attitude and enthusiasm that fuels C-130 Combat Airlift. This week was a snapshot of the tireless efforts our Airmen and families invest in our mission daily at home and abroad.”

The inspection team members evaluated the wing’s Ability to Survive and Operate skills and how Airmen get the job done in accordance with Air Force guidance and instructions. The inspection tested the 19th AW’s readiness for contingency operations capabilities, which focused on the wing’s ability to mobilize and operate in a deployed environment, and force protection of the base.

“I would say that this is an amazingly well-lead and combat ready wing, “said, Col. Adam McMilllan, AMC ORI team chief. “From my stand-point, the men and women of this wing are exceptional, but that’s from the giving end. There’s a lot of things, day to day, that the wing does exceptionally well. Performing their mission, maintenance, flying, these are things the wing does exceptionally well.”

The ORI team chief added that the inspection is intentionally designed to test the not-so day-to-day operations of the wing as well.

“We test for things that you don’t normally do,” the colonel said. “But we do test to a combat level standard. Some of these amazing young Airmen can tell you better what this is like. I hope they all got something out of it.”

In addition to announcing the wing’s overall grade, the AMC IG team handed out awards for teams and individuals.

11 sections were recognized as “superior teams” by the IG:

19th Logistics Readiness Squadron:

Aerial Port Team

Emergency Operations Center Post Attack Reconnaissance Team

19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron:
Aircraft 1811 Generation Team

19th Civil Engineering Squadron:

Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Team

Airfield Damage Assessment and Minimum Operating Strip Cell Team

CE Unit Control Center Team

Folded Fiberglass Mat Team

19th Airlift Wing:

Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team

Mission Planning and Tactics Team

19th Force Support Squadron:
Food Service Team

61st Airlift Squadron:
Puma 21-Team

11 Airmen were recognized as “top performers” by the IG:

19th Operations Support Squadron:

Capt. Bret Echard

19th AMXS:

Senior Master Sgt. Mark Brekken

Master Sgt. Steven Hood

19th LRS:

Master Sgt. Joshua Johnson

Senior Airman Felicia Barnes

Senior Airman Garrick Tilley-Grantz

19th Maintenance Operations Squadron:

Tech. Sgt. Kevin Dunlap

19th FSS:

Tech. Sgt. Sonya Long

19th AW:

Daniel Phoenix

19th Security Forces Squadron:
Airman 1st Class Jaren Bishop

19th Operations Group:

Airman 1st Class Thomas Johnson

Seven Airmen and one civilian were coined by the IG:

19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron:

Capt. Vivien Miller

19th LRS:

Tech. Sgt. William Crouch

19th CES:

Tech. Sgt. Jason Wallace

19th AW:

Staff Sgt. Juan Santoy

19th OSS:

Senior Airman Alexandria Osmundson

19th CS:

Airman 1st Class Kharon Turner

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TOP STORY > >Campaign wants ‘veteran’ put back in Veterans Day

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON -- A new campaign is working to put the “veteran” back into Veterans Day and to rally public awareness of the sacrifices made by injured veterans and their caregivers.

The Wounded Warrior Project kicked off “Believe in Heroes,” which focuses primarily on wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and their caregivers, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks. The campaign will continue through Nov. 11, Veterans Day, said Jonathan Sullivan, the executive vice president of the nonprofit organization.

“Veterans Day has become a national holiday that most Americans give a cursory moment of thought to before going on with their day,” said Steve Nardizzi, the Wounded Warrior Project’s executive director.

Veterans will be recognized at NASCAR races, NCAA and NFL games as part of the campaign, Sullivan said. Two recent 8-kilometer events sponsored through the campaign drew 1,245 people in Jacksonville, Fla., and 65 in Seattle, he added, and the next 8k walk or run will take place Oct. 15 in Charlotte, N.C.

Regardless of how people show support, he added, the intent of the campaign is clear. “Believe in Heroes is a call to action,” he said, to recognize the meaning of Veterans Day, and to support the needs of wounded warriors and their caregivers.

From the earliest stages of the Wounded Warrior Project, Sullivan said, there was concern about the sacrifices caregivers would make to care for their wounded warriors. “Once the most traumatic of injured warriors are out of the hospital and back home,” he added, “the caregiver can be in for a long road ahead.”

Engaging families and caregivers is essential to helping warriors make the transition back to life after they’re injured, Sullivan said, noting that combat injuries affect both the warrior and the family.

The idea for the campaign stemmed from what Sullivan said seemed to be dwindling public interest in the significance of Veterans Day. “Very few people pause Nov. 11 and reflect on the sacrifices our vets made on behalf of us,” he said, and he expressed the hope that the two-month campaign to raise support and awareness of the wounded, their caregivers and all U.S. veterans would create a groundswell of interest that will repeat year after year, every Veterans Day.

But Sullivan said he won’t stop there. Like the year-round campaign for breast cancer awareness that intensifies with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Sullivan said, he envisions year-round “Believe in Heroes” awareness that culminates in a campaign from Sept. 11 to Nov. 11 each year.

“The public would be reminded of how much our wounded warriors sacrificed on the battlefield for us,” he said.

TOP STORY > >Base getting the lead out

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Nearly 15 acres of the base, previously used as a skeet range in the 1960s, is an ecologically safer place today because of a $2.7 million restoration project that excavated 36 million pounds of contaminated soil, or enough to fill 450 semi-trucks, and replaced it with more than 3,000 trees and recycled soil and mulch.

There was cause for concern when a site-wide investigation of Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., revealed that the soil in the former base skeet range had high levels of lead contamination. People are susceptible to lead contamination through air, water, soil and retail products. Prolonged exposure to lead can lead to toxicity in the heart, nerves, kidneys and reproductive systems, which can lead to physical ailments such as headaches, nausea and seizures or even death.

The base’s environmental restoration office was able to respond to the contamination hazard with a project that would not only remove the contaminated soil, but replenish the damaged earth with trees and provide a better environment for base wildlife and people on the base in the process.

“The contaminated area was an old shooting range used in the 60s and 70s,” said Terry Broach, base interim restoration manager. “A study showed extreme levels of lead in the soil; we had to get the lead out. So we executed this plan of soil removal and tree restoration.”

The restoration began in September 2010, and is scheduled to be completed later this month, said Kelly Stater, restoration project manager.

“We started the project last year,” said Stater. “We removed the lead soil in June. In all, we ended up clearing more than 18,000 tons of contaminated soil.”

Stater said the contaminated soil posed not only a health risk to humans, but could adversely affect the ecological balance of the base. The lead contamination could have been potentially detrimental to animals as well.

“The damage to the wildlife would affect people too,” said Stater. “For example, the lead damages the soil and plants, the deer eat the plants, and people eat deer. Removing the soil was a plus for all of us.”

In place of the removed 18,000 tons of soil was a bare patch of earth ensconced by a vertical tower of trees from all ends, accessible by a small gravel-paved road divergent from the base’s main concrete pathways. Stater said the area encompasses approximately 15 acres of land. Land that was empty after the soil removal.

“Fortunate for us, this base is very proactive when it comes to ecological restoration,” said Broach, a career environmentalist.

She said the base has mandats through consent orders, which expedites the completion of restoration projects.

After excavating the enormous amounts of contaminated soil, the workers put down recycled mulch in anticipation of planting trees in the vacant, newly cleansed soil, said Stater. The project was worked by an average of six contracted employees a day for more than a year, focusing on cleansing and replenishing the 15 acres of land.

“In all, we will have planted about 3,000 trees by the time the project’s complete,” the project manager said. “In the last two days we’ve planted about 1,500.”

The freshly planted trees are runts at the moment, said Stater. They only stand about five feet tall and are thin in circumference, but he anticipates 90 percent of them surviving into maturity.

“The recycled mulch retains a lot of water and prevents erosion,” he said.

Broach said that the re-planting took some time due to weather and seasonal concerns in Arkansas, but the project is looking like a success, for people on the base and the base’s wildlife.

“It took some time because we had to figure out what trees would thrive in the spot,” said the restoration manager. “We had to find out what will grow well, and there ended up being 11 different species of trees planted.”

The project site stands now not as a vacant spot of land with harmful contaminants in its soil, but a pasture with tree sprouts speckled throughout. Stater said the grown trees will be beneficial to the base.

“The base can sell some of the trees when they get bigger,” he said. “That will produce some revenue.”

Yet future revenue is only a boon to what the project has already accomplished, said Stater.

“The guys at the shooting range said that the quail over there have come back,” the project manager said. “They said that the quail hadn’t been there for a while.”

Broach said green projects like this are beneficial to everyone in the area.

“You talk about a green project, it (doesn’t) get (any) greener than this,” Said Stater, pointing at the vast landscape of newly planted trees and their enormous elders behind them. “We removed something potentially harmful and replaced it with something positive, and that benefits everyone. This is what restoration is all about.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

SPORTS >> Best of the best

By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron left it all on the field, defeating the 314th Operations Group, 26-14, Monday during an intramural flag football game at the base’s football field.

Both teams were vying to stay undefeated, but ultimately only one would come out on top.
Starting the game, both teams’ stifling defense smothered the offenses. 19th LRS Receiver Matt Geroux scored the first touchdown of the game, with a 20-yard post pattern.

Not long after, 19th OG Quarterback Chris Young, responded with a rushing touchdown, closing out the first half, and tying the game, 6-6.

Fired up by the half-time huddle, the second half blazed off with LRS’ Cornerback/Coach Andre Westmoreland scoring a touchdown by catching the ball in the end zone, in addition to a two-point-conversion by also catching the ball in the end zone. Eight points brought the score up, 14-6.

Young didn’t take long to show why these two teams are undefeated when he scored eight points of his own, with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, tying the game.

LRS’ Running Back Brandon Lewis, sprinted to the end zone, leaping over a defender to catch a touchdown pass with five minutes to go, giving his team a 20-14 lead.

Feeling the pressure, Young threw an interception, which was caught by LRS’ Free Safety Talvin Hayes.

Westmoreland scored the last touchdown of the game, by running 40 yards to the end zone, bringing the final score, 26-14.

“Going into the game,” said Westmoreland, “I knew we had to be focused. OG was the top team to beat. This is the first time in the two years I’ve played that we’ve beaten them. We played good as a team. We could take it all.”

Coach Luke McLimans wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance but has high hopes for the future.
“This was a poor performance from the team,” said McLimans. “We were both undefeated up until this point. We needed to be more prepared. This is just something to learn on and build upon. We will come back better next time.”

TOP STORY >> CPTS, CONS, CE take the base back to the future

By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

It was a dark and stormy night … really.

Little Rock Air Force Base was pitch black the evening of April 25, after an EF-2 tornado plowed through the base, leaving in its wake more than 100 damaged housing units, distressed buildings in the base’s flightline area and a handful of crippled C-130 aircraft. Approximately $54 million in damage was the initial assessment. In the aftermath shrouded by the darkness, the resiliency of Team Little Rock Airmen, their families and off-base neighbors and communities shone through the night. Base Airmen immediately launched recovery efforts to continue the C-130 combat airlift mission in trademark fashion.

Now from cleaning and clearing damaged buildings to creating contracts for funding and projects for renovations, the end of this fiscal year will give much ease to the base as the pieces to the puzzle start fitting once again, by the allotment of funds dedicated to taking the base back to April 24.
The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron was on scene in minutes after the tornado swept through the base, said 1st Lt. Chad Fulgham, 19th Combat Engineers executive officer. “Our fire department fought their way out of their damaged facility to lead sweeps through the housing and industrial areas. They partnered with our defenders and housing residents already on scene to comb all the affected housing units and save the personnel that were present in them. In addition, they organized volunteer manpower from maintenance group to survey the base’s industrial and flightline areas, identifying the facilities and infrastructure that was damaged,” he said.

The resource advisors put together a list of all the things that were damaged: the buildings, the tornado tracker, equipment, infrastructure, facilities, vehicles and aircraft, said 1st Lt. Leif Brustuen, 19th Comptroller Squadron chief of financial management and analysis. This list was compiled within 48 hours after the tornado struck and submitted to the 19th CES.

“We had to figure out what we needed to fix before we asked for money or anything,” Brustuen said. “So everything had a price tag and cost tied to it. That price tag was sent up to Air Mobility Command and the Secretary of the Air Force level, then the appropriate funding was allocated to each line item on that list. Depending on dollar-threshold amounts, different kinds of money applied to different projects on that list.”

A task force twister team, comprised of the 19th Contracting Squadron, financial management and 19th CES was developed. They would get together and meet with the customer about what needed to be fixed, said Brustuen. The purpose of that was to hone in on what specific requirements there were and to make sure requirements were valid. The validation process is usually intended to be two weeks long, but in this situation, it ended up being about a month longer, Brustuen added.

“We defined requirements to AMC and SAF after we went through task force twister,” said Lt. Col. Christina Collins, 19th CPTS commander. “Air Mobility Command sent over $24 million dollars for tornado damage recovery. Those dollars will be used to repair hangars, buildings, equipment, and other miscellaneous damage at Little Rock. The majority of the money will be spent on construction projects.”

There are 32 projects worth approximately $29 million, said Fulgham. A total of 27 projects were awarded in fiscal year 2011 valued at approximately $23 million; we are still coordinating with AMC and Air Staff on the remaining two. “Our team was able to garner more storm money in FY11 than eight other AMC bases received in all of FY11,” he said.

Construction also took on projects to help repair tornado damages.

“We did 10 construction contracts over $5 million,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Sinning, 19th CONS commander.

Brustuen said they needed to verify where the money would be used before reconstruction could begin.“We would certify that the funds are available and that the requirement is a legal use of appropriated funds. Then CES would work with CONS as far as which deadlines within the fiscal year needed to be met,” said Brustuen. “We closed out the fiscal year at midnight, Sept. 30. We’re done allocating FY11 dollars and have now turned our focus on FY12 where we have not had any storm damage. If the storm happened in FY11, the repair had to be charged in FY11. We’re done financing it,” he said.

Now that the finances are done, the construction can begin.

The actual repairs have just started, said Collins. Contracts just got finalized, and construction begins. CES and CONS negotiate with contractors last week to get that price down as far as they could get it.
Completion dates for each project will vary, dependent on the start date of the repair, the complexity of the repair and the funding available, said Fulgham. “We will host a pre-construction meeting between CE, CONS, the contractor and each facility manager prior to starting any construction, and will be able to tailor a timeline to each specific project at that time,” he said.

Collins wants Team Little Rock to understand that this process takes time. A trait she advises them to have is patience.

“It takes a lot of time to narrow in on the specific requirements of how to get the base back to where it was, sorting out the mess, developing strategies for a way forward and also finding someone to do the work,” she said. “Usually they have a whole year to work on their projects, meaning before that year starts they’ve got their eyeballs on which building will need the roof repaired in a couple of years. This was a quicker timeline. The tornado happened halfway through fiscal year and we knew we had to use FY11 dollars on it. They only appropriate the operations and maintenance dollars one year at a time to find and fund the requirements at the end of the FY.

All the efforts to the repair of the base were major, but Brustuen and Sinning both give much respect to the man hours and processes that CES put into taking the base back to April 24, in order to build to improve the future.

“In addition to CES’ in house design, programming, and engineer team, we worked with the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency’s contract team to complete all the documentation. Together we spent over 10,000 man hours working storm projects between April 25, and September 30,” Fulgham said.
“Civil engineering really saved the base,” said Sinning. “From their initial response, getting power back on the base, to getting all these contracts awarded at the end of this fiscal year, a lot has really been on their backs. Their professionalism and dedication really shown through with what they did. Not only did they deal with tornado construction, but there’s also $50 million of normal end-of-year construction that they were designing and managing. It was pretty amazing how it all came together.
“We’re really just the wind beneath civil engineering’s wings, enabling them to accomplish the mission,” he said.

CES and CONS did a really good job this year negotiating the contracts, said Brustuen. “Major kudos goes to all who were in the whole recovery of everything from the very initial minutes after the tornado to end of last Friday. Everyone stepped up big. Thank you to the whole base,” he said.
(Lt. Col. Lance Clark, 19th CES commander; Don Smart, base fire chief; Maj. Charles Fletcher, operations flight chief; and Michael Boyle, program flight chief; contributed background information for this article.)

TOP STORY >> Stepping stones to success: Special duty assignments

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For many Airmen, their stay in the Air Force is interspersed with many routines or instances of déjà vu caused by familiarity with the job. It is not uncommon for feelings of familiarity to be coupled with disinterest. When the engaging becomes routine, and commonplace, there can be no other culprit afflicting Airmen than that one scourge of all productive businesses: boredom.

Airmen needing a break from the daily grind would do well to consider special duty assignments.
“Special duty assignments give a lot of career benefits,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Reis, an Air Education and Training Command enlisted ascensions recruiter in Jacksonville, Ark. “Obviously … kinda stepping out of your current career field is big. Getting a fresh breadth of experience, new breadths of experience, with a different type of career, totally different from that of which you’ve known.”

Reis, who’s been a recruiter since December 2008, said the recruiting special duty assignment gave him an entirely new perception and set of skills to work with in the Air Force.

“Recruiting is totally different,” said Reis. “It gives you the chance to go back to your career field with definite new leadership skill sets.”

Taking on a special duty assignment is a big step which requires careful consideration, said Master Sgt. Troy Trevino, 19th Comptroller Squadron and 19th Airlift Wing Director of Staff first sergeant.
“Finding a way to give back, to help mentor and guide others … if you’re sincere about doing that, then it’s the right special duty,” Trevino said. “Just like in any duty, you want to see if it interests you. If you’re not willing to help others and if you’re not interested in mentoring and guiding people, then you shouldn’t do it because those are things you’ll be doing every day.”
Reis said one of the leadership traits he learned as a recruiter is being a mentor.

“You’re mentoring these civilians,” said Reis. “They’re going to be Airmen. We get a sense of leadership and supervisory skills with Airmen, but the way that you guide them is different than with civilians.”

Taking on the role of recruiter has taught him better skills at being patient while working with prospective recruits, said Reis, who worked for 10 years as a maintenance Airman on the flight line before becoming a recruiter.

“As a recruiter, you’re their supervisor,” said Reis. “It’s important how supervisors treat their Airmen. The way you treat them, the way you react with them, that’s going to be their first Air Force supervisor experience.”

Reis said he became a recruiter almost immediately after putting on technical sergeant stripes, but recommends that people seek out special duty assignments even earlier.

“I would say start looking for them at that staff sergeant level,” said Reis. “Don’t wait too late. I say wait until you’re a staff sergeant to get a little bit of NCO experience in your job. For most people that’s going to be at the six to seven year mark. That gives you an opportunity to go into a different career field as a staff sergeant, possibly make tech in that special duty, and then come back to your career field.”

While it is his own suggestion to wait until becoming a staff sergeant before taking on a special duty assignment, Reis said that anyone with leadership abilities and other skill sets can compensate for a lack of experience. He wouldn’t discourage a senior airman from pursuing a special duty like recruiting.

“I would recommend you get experience with supervising Airmen and writing enlisted progress reports,” said Reis. “If you have no experience supervising and accomplishing these things before taking on a special duty it can leave you at a disadvantage when you go back to your career field.”
Being a supervisor is a stepping stone to becoming a good first sergeant, said Trevino.

“As a supervisor, we do that … helping people grow and develop. As a first sergeant, we do the same thing but [the special duty] provides another opportunity to share with others,” Trevino said. “You get to go out with different organizations and grow as a professional. So the benefit is two-fold: [special duty assignments] help you grow and gives you the opportunity to help others grow.”

It is the experience of stepping out of your career field that’s most important, said Reis. There are difficulties in taking on special duty assignments, but in the end, they will offer benefits to Airmen that otherwise might not be available.

“I picked up some skills recruiting that I otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Reis. “Definitely, and this is my opinion only, it made me appreciate my old job. Working on the flight line, I appreciate it more. This is a different genre of Air Force.”

COMMENTARY >> Letter from the top

Black Knights...

This Friday, the 19th Airlift Wing’s Operational Readiness Inspection finally starts. It has been an absolute honor to watch you prepare for this critical inspection. I’m so proud to show you off to the Air Mobility Command inspection team. They will soon find out what I already are simply the best.

A few thoughts:

- Black Knights will be on point and working this Columbus Day holiday...Thank You.

- We will dominate our world. We will project Air Power to Support and Defend...Thank You.

- We will Operate, Maintain, Support, and Medically Support with amazing precision...Thank You.

- Your families will once again silently sacrifice while you lay it out for our highest gratitude and respect...Thank You.

Hold your heads high and carry yourselves with quiet confidence. You deliver outstanding results in combat and in garrison daily. I’m proud to fly your wing.

We Are...Black Knights!

Col. Mike Minihan
19th Airlift Wing commander

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TOP STORY > >A time of reflection and a bid farewell

If you haven’t heard, Petra and I recently received orders to Kadena Air Base, Japan. Now, at the dusk of our time here at Little Rock Air Force Base. These orders have given us cause for reflection.

Let me first simply say to the community at large, I can’t thank you enough for everything. This assignment is one that won’t soon be forgotten, by me or Petra. Petra and I have enjoyed the surrounding community and everything it has to offer, but most importantly, we’ve enjoyed the fellowship. It’s the people that made this assignment worthwhile.

As I look over the last 15 months, we’ve spent time on the lake with friends, enjoyed baseball games with our civic partners/leaders, offered our respects to a grateful nation, and honored our fellow service members killed in action, wounded in action or prisoners of war, during ceremonies and national remembrance periods. Additionally, we have taken great care of each other during times of separation, natural disaster and personal crises. We have an extended family here we can all be proud of.

On a personal note, Petra has enjoyed volunteering at the thrift shop, supporting the Airmen Helping Airmen campaign and being involved in activities such as Welcome Home Warriors, Airmen Leadership School graduations and many other events. She leaves with a satisfaction knowing she has grown and helped others along the way.

I too have enjoyed my personal experiences here. This is a community that works hard at quality of life and looking after each other. I have found my professional experience equally rewarding and illuminating. We practiced teamwork across organizational lines, using it as a key variable to many successful inspections and a huge win at the 2011 RODEO. Additionally, it’s been great working with the private organizations, clinics such as mental health, discussing leadership/careers with the ALS, First Term Airman’s Center and our enlisted leaders through professional development seminars and enlisted calls.

To my boss and friend, Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander, I can’t thank you enough for this rewarding opportunity. Together, with our team, we’ve stepped through our wing’s big five, attended seminars and conferences, walked the ground on 167 work center visits and dealt with some of life’s most delicate issues. Together, we have had an impact, one that I’m proud of. I would also offer, your mentorship and insights have made me a better enlisted leader/coach and for that I offer, once again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

“Together, we have had an impact, one that I’m proud of. I would also offer,
your mentorship and insights have made me a better enlisted leader/coach...
Once again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”