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NEWS | April 18, 2013

DIAMOND TIP: A new look at support!

By Master Sgt. Tony Crerar 628th Force Support Squadron first sergeant

I used to be the guy that came off the flight line covered in oil, grease and fuel, totally disgruntled with anyone working in an air-conditioned office. You know them, Military Personnel Section, Services, Medical, Finance, whoever. I'd think to myself, "How hard could it be to work in a place like that?"

I was working in the rain, snow, cold, 100-plus degree temperatures and not being able to eat lunch unless I brought my own food and I was working weekends. Yup! I disliked those Airmen, they were "Nonners" (anyone who doesn't work on the flight-line.)

This is my first time being on the side of "supporting the mission." For more than 16 years, I had something to do with the mission; fixing jets, training future maintainers, deploying at a moment's notice. Now, I'm on the other side; how hard could this be? As the late, great Harry Caray, former American baseball broadcaster, would say ... "HOLY COW!"

My eyes have opened wide. The support side of the base consists of multiple squadron's; Force Support, Logistics, Readiness, Civil Engineer, Security Forces ... that's not a bad line-up for a support group ... and I didn't even name all of them.

You may think all these squadron's/groups on the 628th side just sit in air-conditioned offices, pushing paperwork, seeing patients and working the gate. What you don't see is all the deployments these squadron members go on, manning shortages, time away from families, stress in the work place and dealing with customers every day. I know it's tough on the flight-line; been there, done that. I don't think it is any easier on this side of the fence.

Sometimes I think about if all I had to do is work on a jet on the flight line, well, that might not be so bad at times. It doesn't talk back, raise its voice, write Interactive Customer Evaluation comments, and no Inspector General complaints. I'm sure some of the customers and servicemembers in the 628th Air Base Wing would enjoy working on an aircraft from time to time.

I know there are some job differences, and I'm sure I will hear about this article from the maintainers I used to work with. But now I've seen things from the other side of the fence, and I have a new respect for the support side of the Air Force. I remember being a young Airman and noncommissioned officer and hearing leadership tell everyone, "Everybody's job is equally important to the mission." I doubted those statements for years. Now I'm seeing the truth in that statement first hand. Thank you all for what you give to the mission.