Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

April 26, 2010 at 7:50am

McChord's Walker making SW Asia more comfortable

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SOUTHWEST ASIA -- At a moment's notice things can change. A country can rise up and overthrow its government. A volcano can erupt polluting the skies with ash and grounding more than 100,000 flights. A small air base in Southwest Asia can suddenly find itself bedding down hundreds of transient troops because of circumstances out of its control.

For the lodging staff here at Commando Village, the transient housing area, the recent political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan and the natural disaster in Iceland has been an eye-opener as the Airmen work around the clock ensuring the hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers temporarily displaced due to these situations have a roof over their heads and beds to rest on.

"The lodging staff here is by far the greatest group of men and women I have ever worked with," said Senior Master Sgt. David Walker, 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron lodging superintendent, deployed from McChord Field. "They work hard to get the job done and have a great attitude doing it. They care about the mission and it shows."

The six-person staff, which has recently recruited a few volunteers due to the influx of transient military members, is responsible for ensuring all guests have safe and clean housing, bedding and working amenities. 

"There's always something to do here, especially with the recent influx of people," said Airman 1st Class Dustin Kimbrough, 386th EFSS services journeyman, deployed from Fairchild AFB, Wash. "It seems like it's always something different too. We can do grunt work such as clearing a storage tent one minute and computer data the next. The best part about working here is it keeps us on our toes."

Tech. Sgt. Willie Andino, 386th FSS Commando Village lodging assistant manager, deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., said communication and organization are key to making the lodging operation a success.

"There are a lot of moving parts out here which really make good communication critical," said the Grand Rapids, Mich. native. "Assigning a non-flyer to a flyer tent or male to a female tent are examples [of what could go wrong with poor communication]. Most of our customers are tired from traveling and just want to go to sleep when they get here as they pass the time until their next flight. With hundreds of people to keep track of, organization is also critical in ensuring everything runs smooth."

The NCO, now on his eighth deployment, added that with customer service at the forefront of their job, from in-processing and out-processing transient members to assisting guests throughout their stay, the Commando Village staff does its best to make guests as comfortable as possible in the deployed environment. 

"I really enjoy the customer service aspect of our job and trying to help people," he said. "We do our best to ensure our customers are happy during the short time they're here."

Andino and his coworkers said that one of the biggest challenges they face downrange is the diversity of their career field.

"Services troops can be tasked to work at lodging, the fitness center, dining facility or recreation center regardless of their present job at home station," he said. 

At his home station, Andino works at the fitness center, while Airman Kimbrough, an Albuquerque, N.M., native, works at the dining facility.

"I've actually never worked in lodging before, so this experience has been a welcome challenge for me," said Kimbrough, who is on his first deployment. "There isn't really time to learn in this environment, you just have to know what you're doing, which I seem to have picked up along the way. You have to adapt and overcome."

Walker, who has been in the services career field for just over 25 years, said he is proud of the work his staff has put forth over the past few months contributing to such an important mission.

"Rest is absolutely critical to the mission and our staff here is making sure our transient folks get just that - a clean, comfortable place to rest before moving on to the next location," said the Spokane, Wash., native. "Ultimately, they are keeping morale high and high morale is a force multiplier."    

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