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Bring a Buddy Day, sharing the Guard opportunity

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th Wing

The 168th Wing held their annual Bring-a-Buddy to Work Day, allowing members to bring their families and friends and welcoming community friends on base to explore the 168th Wing aircraft, careers, and facilities. The 168th Wing showcased their capabilities through various squadron briefings, demonstrations, and equipment on exhibit.

The open house welcomed over 30 guests who learned about the 168th mission, people, and community presence. The visitors asked a wide range of questions from the day in the life of a KC-135 pilot to a human resources specialist, both full-time and part-time.

Several members from career fields at the 168th Wing shared their compatibility with the civilian sector. 

 “I liked the idea that everyone mentioned that whatever skills you learn at the base can be transferred to a civilian career,” said Maria Cordova from Healy, Alaska. “The idea of having a civilian career while serving in the military. It is nice for my kids to know another career out there to try. The staff was accommodating, answering all our questions.”

The unit representatives from vehicle maintenance shared their scope of work, from working on deicing trucks to law enforcement vehicles.

Logistics gave a brief overview of ground transportation, asset management, and distribution flight, handling everything in and outbound in the warehouse.

“Our ground transportation and POL have commercial licenses, so if CDLs are something that interests you, we could help,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Geese, 168th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Most everything we do in Logistics is applicable on the civilian side.”

The 168th Communications Squadron shared their experiences and the transition to mission defense cyber security. Radio operators also provided information on how radios interact with different agencies and towers to provide secure communications.

“Through this opportunity with the Guard, I was able to get a great job on the civilian side, and I’ve been working there since,” said Lt. Elizabeth Carter, who continues to serve in the Alaska Air National Guard part-time. “I’m very grateful for what comm gave me personally.”  

Master Sgt. Matthew Miller of the communications squadron reminded the group to learn about all the careers to determine what suits them. “Make sure to check out all the sections. The more you know, the better off you are, and look at what will work for you to get you where you need to be.”

Buddy Lane of North Pole, who served as a Firefighter in the NPFD for over 40 years, brought his grandson out to the unit for the day as he believes there is importance in seeing careers and opportunities firsthand.

“One of the things that intrigued me was the fire chief was talking to me about life and stuff. I was 18 and knowing that when I was 38, I could be completely retired, plus I loved firefighting,” shared Lane. “Trying to get these guys in at a young age so they will know their future, whether it be a retirement from the military or a service organization. This helps with setting goals.”

The KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft was on full display from the boom pod to the pilot seats. Boom and pilot requirements, including the annual pilot boards, pilot aptitude tests, and the boom operator positions, were explained.

Boom operators offload gas from the KC-135 aircraft to other aircraft and are responsible for uploading and downloading cargo, passengers, and medical evacuation missions. Each unit provided insight into their mission and careers to give a glimpse into the opportunities at the 168th Wing. 
“I feel it is important to expose our kids to various information and opportunities,” said Elizabeth Mullenerg of North Pole, who brought her three sons out to the 168th Wing for the day. “We don’t know what we don’t know, and being around new opportunities and experiences helps guide us towards careers we may have never known. The continued learning helps all of us.”

Tech Sgt. Kara Goodness-Tisland led the group and shared her experiences as ISO providing isochronal inspections on the KC-135s and her experiences as a crew chief.

“Working in ISO, I get in-depth experience on how we maintain the aircraft. I try to get more experience out on the flight line with the rest of the crew chiefs to gain more knowledge and experience and continue sharing with others.”

The event also included a bar-b-que on a sunny Fairbanks summer afternoon where unit members and visitors were able to share with each other.

“It was a fantastic experience - especially for my kids,” said Cordova. “It was their first time experiencing something like this, and it really opened the door to opportunities.”