Dispatch from Ali Base, Iraq

Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff sends us more news of life and events at Ali Base, Iraq.

A couple of weeks ago, Lt. Gen. Gary North, 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central commander, and Tuskegee Airmen visited Ali Base. While here, the general gave many Airmen here his coin for their hard work. One Airman to receive a coin was Airman 1st Class Kirk Peiffer, a firefighter for the 407th Air Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department. The general coined him for painting a mural with the 407th Air Expeditionary Group’s mission statement near the base flagpole.

“I was very surprised,” Airman Peiffer said. “It was my very first coin.” General North was also the first general officer Peiffer had ever met.

Chief Master Sgt. Gerald Delebreau praised the Elysburg, Penn., native. “Airman Peiffer is a very mature individual who has a lot of respect for his leadership and the project he was put in charge of to complete,” Chief Delebreau said. “He is someone many of us in the military can learn from to the keep traditions and customs alive.” (Story and photo here)

Though Ali Base Airmen work hard, they also have time to take advantage of an Immersion Program sponsored by the Top 3 Council. The program allows all Airmen to spend time with Airmen in another career field to get a better understanding of their job. The program is particularly helpful for Airmen considering cross training.

“I think the program does justice with helping people who are thinking about cross training into a particular field know what they’re getting into before they sign up,” said Staff Sgt. Cheryl Birch said. The 407th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron NCO is thinking about cross training into broadcasting.

The program also gives Airmen an idea of what fellow Airmen do at their jobs and learn valuable skills. “I immersed with vehicle maintenance and learned how to plug a tire,” said Master Sgt. Sherry Thomas, 407th Expeditionary Medical Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineer Flight NCOIC and Immersion Program manager. “I got to see what the vehicle mechanics do on a daily basis and was glad I did. They were great over there.” (Story here)

When Sergeant Thomas isn’t busy running the Immersion Program, she’s doing her primary job which is bioenvironmental engineer technician. Part of her job is going to the base bathroom facilities and checking pH, chlorine and bacteriological contaminants to ensure the safety of deployed Airmen. (Photos here)