Looking back through my rearview mirror

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We only had a couple days left on the deployment. I was just wrapping up the last few photos – trying to capture each Airman who joined us – when I determined I needed to hitch a ride back to the fitness center on the other side of the base to get photos of those on the second shift.

Lucky for me, Senior Master Sgt. Rebecca Kedrowski offered me a ride! What I didn’t know at the time was that particular ride came with Maj. Michael Dampf, Master Sgt. Adam Zuniga and Tech. Sgt. Jamey Kuske. Fitting all in the same little car wasn’t a problem until Maj. Dampf turned to me and asked if I had driven in England yet. I said no and he responded with, “Well, you can’t leave England until you’ve had a chance to drive on the other side of the road.”

So, that was how the adventure began. I not only had the opportunity to embarrass myself in front of one person, but now I had the luxury of doing so in front of four others!

I got into the right side of the car, buckled up by pulling the seatbelt over my right shoulder before fastening it to my left side and started the car. By start I mean turned the key – nothing happened.

Kedrowski kindly informed me you have to have your foot on the brake to get the car to start. Phew – car started, we’re on a roll!

Backing out of the parking spot wasn’t a problem – turning right into the left lane was a bit of a struggle though. In less than 30 seconds of drive time, I brought all four of my passengers over the curb!

After that I started driving like my grandma would drive and we had a fairly safe ride to the other side of the base. I only made those in my car gasp one more time when I almost took out another curb!

Let’s just say my drive into work this morning was a bit less eventful, even with the snow storm. It did, however, give me a chance to reminisce about all of the amazing Airmen I got a chance to meet – and all of the outstanding work they did overseas. Several of the active-duty supervisors wanted to keep our Airmen over there, and after taking time to sit in with all the work stations, I could see why.

Our Airmen are very hard workers. Take those in the dining facility for example. Here at Truax they are responsible for feeding more than 400 people at one meal. Overseas they only had to feed 100-200 per meal. Here at Truax they need to figure out and balance their budget in two work days, overseas they have the chance to manipulate that budget until the end of the month if they need to.

Those in lodging got a chance to see what it would be like to have lodging on base. The organization of the rooms, the cleaning schedules, inspections, etc. They did it all. They even had a chance to figure out what to do when the computer system completely brakes down. It left them with an opportunity to work together to find solutions for the problem, testing the knowledge and experience they’ve gained through the years.

The Airmen in LRS witnessed first-hand the collaboration the active-duty force has with the civilian force – the various experience intertwined. The LRS officers were given a chance to tour each of the LRS components – there were enough separate buildings to keep the crew busy for the full two-weeks.

Those in the fitness center discovered what it takes to run a large facility. They got to wash towels, help with fitness testing, learn the ins and outs of scheduling, etc. You can see more of what they did by checking out last week’s blog!

The FSS Airmen in personnel brought out their training skills during the deployment. Not only did they train the active duty on some of the deployment processes they were familiar with, but they also incorporated themselves into an active-duty deployment processing exercise – showing off the knowledge they’ve gained during actual deployments and exercises here at Truax.

The two weeks flew faster than the blink of an eye. I learned so much in a short timeframe, and can’t wait to implement myself into their work stations here, so I can get a better handle on the differences of our Guard and active-duty components, and how they can work together to make everything run flawlessly.

Huge thanks to Senior Master Sgt. Richard Breister – as I understand he was one of the main organizers for the deployment, and then stayed home to make sure everything ran smoothly here! Breister is a great example of a supervisor looking out for his troops – ensuring they are given opportunities to learn and grow in their career fields, an important aspect to being an exceptional Air National Guardsmen – ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.