Tag Archives: knowledge

Career knowledge, performance translate to relevance, respect

Chief Master Sgt. David Dock
50th Mission Support Group

I arrived at my first duty station in November 1987 as a trained and motivated KC-135 Stratotanker maintainer. I was an expert — or so I thought. On my first day on the job, I walked toward the expediter truck excited about the drive to the flightline. I was about to be dropped off near a multimillion dollar flying machine and I knew my crew chief would say, “This one is yours, make us proud!” Oh, how wrong I was.

“Sergeant Reality”, as we will call him, stopped me before I made two steps into the truck and said, “JEEP (which I learned much later stood for Just Enough Education to Pass), your job is to sit in the seat behind me in the truck. Do not speak. Read that bookshelf full of technical orders.” Sergeant Reality continued. “If the truck stops, you stand up – I might have some work for you to do. If I don’t, I will tell you to sit back down, and that means read more technical orders.”

“How could this be?” I thought. I was a trained maintenance machine. The Air Force spent truckloads of money making me an expert. This pattern with “Sergeant Reality” went on for a month. The truck would stop, I would stand, and Sergeant Reality would tell me to sit down and read. On occasion, I would serve as fire guard on a refuel or hook up a maintenance stand to the back of the truck, but most of my time was spent in silence, pouring over technical orders.

One cool morning, a few hours into my reading session, the truck stopped in front of an aircraft. I stood as instructed, waiting to be directed to take my seat. The crew chief from the aircraft informed the expediter he would need help and wanted an Airman to assist him. Sergeant Reality pointed past me to who we will call ‘Airman Lucky.’ “Airman,” he stated, “get out.” Sergeant Reality asked the crew chief what he needed help with. “My nose wheel tire has cord exposed and a flat spot on it, “he said. “It needs to be changed.”

Good judgment and a will to live immediately left me when I said, “Is it a 12-inch flat spot?” Sergeant Reality snapped around in his seat and screamed, “What did you say?” I replied “The technical order has a new change in it that allows a tire to have cord showing as long as the tire does not have a 12-inch flat spot.”

kc-135 crew chief

In a fit of rage, Sergeant Reality yelled “Give me the T.O.” I handed it to him, and he read the instructions. He looked at the crew chief and said “Well, does it?” The crew chief shook his head no. Sergeant Reality exclaimed, “Then the tire’s not bad, the T.O. changed.”

Sergeant Reality sat back in his seat, took a large breath, and said to the crew chief “Let me introduce you to your new assistant crew chief, Airman Dock. He knows the T.O.s better than you! Get out of my truck Dock!” As I climbed out of the truck Sergeant Reality pointed at Airman Lucky and barked, “JEEP, you have a new job.”

Every moment in your career will produce lessons. Although the events of my first month in the Air Force may seem harsh, they solidified in my mind what would make me successful. I needed to be relevant to the duties and positions I would hold. I needed to be respected for the knowledge and talents I brought to the fight. I needed to back those skills with performance. I needed to demonstrate that I was ready to replace someone who had moved on. Sergeant Reality brought me back down to Earth, and when I was prepared to be relevant, respected and could perform in the role needed, elevated me to that position.

Sergeant Reality instilled in me the idea that we’re not just working a job – we’re part of a much larger picture, we’re part of a professional career. As Airmen, we each have a valuable skillset we presumably worked and trained hard to learn. I’ve served in the Air Force for 26 years and I’m still learning – it’s a never ending process. Let’s all strive to perfect our skills as Airmen and ensure our abilities are commensurate with our rank and position. The U.S. is counting on us.

PHOTO: A crew chief with the 191st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshals a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft toward the runway prior to a mission at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Dec. 3, 2011. Crew chiefs perform and coordinate a wide variety of maintenance tasks and prepare the aircraft for flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. David Kujawa)

Left behind

By Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A 4-year old girl with shoulder-length, light-brown hair and big brown eyes sat on the edge of the countertop with her legs dangling over the side, swinging back and forth. A strong man three times her size with hardworking hands touched her gently, and looked at her with tears streaming down his weathered face. “Mommy is not coming back. Mommy is in heaven with Grandpa,” he told her as his voice cracked. The brave little girl reached her tiny hand up to his sad face and wiped away his tears, as she said, “Don’t worry Daddy, it will be okay.”

But it was not okay; her mother, my aunt, had committed suicide only days earlier.Suicide prevention

Everyone has heard about suicide, but many people may not think it will affect them. But I guarantee if you ask around, it hits closer to home than you might think.

Yet, we still believe it won’t be someone we love. I didn’t think I would ever hear the news that my aunt Maria, who was only in her mid-30s, would take her own life.

I was a freshman in high school when I turned around at lunch one day with a smile still fresh on my face from a joke I overhead, when I saw my father’s pain-stricken face. I knew right then something was very wrong.

From then on the moments are a blur. When I look back, all I sense is a heavy dread and pain, a pain that tears deeply each time I look at my little cousin Olivia. Although Maria committed suicide about 8 years ago, it still breaks my heart to think about the life she missed out on.

She, like many people who commit suicide, dealt with depression. The one thing I wish I could have shown her was her funeral and all the people who sat in the pews crying. I wish she would have been able to see her 4-year-old daughter walk down the aisle of the big church, side-by-side with the coffin, and lay a rose on top of her mother’s lifeless body. I wish she would have felt the love of those who cared for her dearly, and those that might have been able to pull her off of that edge.

But my wishes are just that… wishes.

What I don’t want is for you to be the one wishing. Once a loved one takes his or her life, we have no control. We are the survivors, and we are the ones who must keep going.

From the time I began high school and throughout my military career, I have been inundated with computer-based training modules, classes and countless Airmen days on the topic of suicide.

But even with all of this knowledge and available resources, the Air Force battles this issue. Some might not think it can happen to them or someone they know,

So, what can we do to help those in need?

Many may think it is cliché, but I always smile at everyone. I always think especially since I am a survivor, what if that one act brings them back. Maybe it is not that simple, but kindness does go a long way.

We are always told to be good wingmen. This goes hand-in-hand with improving our resiliency. When you see your co-worker down or acting different, pull him or her aside. See what is wrong. A lot of times, all people need is someone to talk to.

If someone comes and tells you of a plan to hurt him or herself, don’t laugh it off. The person is reaching out to you. Listen and then help find the assistance he or she may need.

Social media is huge these days. We may take what our friends say online as a joke or not take them seriously, but if you start noticing a trend or something that makes you raise your eyebrows, do something about it. Heck, it might not be anything, but how would you feel if you found out later that person had harmed him or herselves? You truly can save lives.

There will always be challenges in this world, but if we all take that extra step and treat people like valued human-beings, maybe we can stop losing our Air Force family to this dreadful thing.

I know that if we had seen the warning signs, my little cousin would not be walking around on Easter grasping a picture of her mother because she missed her, but instead holding her hand and celebrating the joyous moments in life.

Photo: (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)