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Why I Serve – Serving in the Services Career Field

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

For eleven years now, Staff Sgt. Zuzzy McFeron has served in the Oklahoma and Alaska Air National Guard as Services in the Force Support Squadron. McFeron joined to leave her hometown and has since had many adventures along with serving her hometown.

“Who am I, and why do I serve? I like to joke I’m a human mom in a dog world,” said McFeron. “My sister and I co-parent our Frenchie. My sister just got out this year, but every time we left, we co-parent while the other was gone on a mission. I am a mom to my son Oliver, who is five years old, and to our Frenchie named Patron.

McFeron was born and raised in Oklahoma and found herself joining her hometown Guard unit.

“I tried to join active duty right out of high school, and I was stuck at 97 pounds,” said McFeron. “I did not weigh enough. It was rare, and there was no waiver at the time, so I started going to the gym – actually falling in love with it. I’m a gym rat now. My recruiter dropped me, and I was devastated.”

McFeron’s dad works for the FAA, and when his boss at the FAA found out about her situation, he mentioned the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He is a Guardsman and a Flight Officer for Services.

“It was perfect timing, and I met everyone on Family Day,” said McFeron. “I’ve always loved people, and after meeting everyone there, I joined as Services in the OK ANG.”
“I was joining originally despite my dad – I told him, you know what? I’m going to go, and then I couldn’t go. I was stuck; active duty didn’t want me. So, I joke about my story now.”

McFeron deployed with the OK Air Guard and has served on many temporary duty stations (TDYs). She was about to become full-time in the OK Air Guard (AGR) when she moved with her husband to Alaska while expecting their first child.

“Being able to leave home has made me feel great., said McFeron. “I have a great relationship with my family, and we are close, but I feel better being away and not stuck.”

She is the oldest child and serves with two of her sisters in the Air Guard. Her other sister enlisted in the Guard as base operations in the OK ANG while she was deployed with her other sister.

“We had no idea she was going to join,” said McFeron. “We were at the gym, and my sister came looking for me to tell me our other sister was enlisting. We were there watching her.”

This year, her sister separated and became a contractor in intel cyber operations. She is close to her sister.

“I wanted to get out of the Air Guard as I was leaving Alaska. I had been serving at the 176th Rescue Wing when my superintendent told me about JP, the superintendent at Eielson. I learned about being a non-commuter, which was new to me. I was full-time for so long.”

While going to school for psychology, she heard she could help backfill the 168th Wing Services superintendent as he was out on baby leave.

“Being able to meet the wing is fun,” said McFeron. “I’m used to knowing everyone and everyone knowing me. I’ve been serving so long, but the career fields constantly change. I’m still learning so much.”
Her favorite part of services is the people. She said, “This is probably why I’m pursuing a degree in psychology. I like people, learning people, meeting people.
“I think that’s why I do so well in services, maybe because it’s such a customer-serviced career field, and that’s what I’m good at.”

“My mom always jokes and says, all the stories you tell me, people meet you and dump their life story on you as soon as they meet you. I don’t know what that’s about, but I guess I’m open, and people feel comfortable with me. My mom said good thing that’s what you want to do with your degree.”

While serving in Alaska, she learned she is interested in helping veterans and young adults.

“I love people, and I love taking care of people. I love helping people in general. I love meeting people. My disclaimer when I meet people is I start talking; listen, please don’t hesitate to tell me to be quiet. You won’t hurt my feelings. It’s a problem I’ve been working on.”

She shared what a friend once said: If I can’t get a hold of you, it’s because you are on the phone with your mom or sisters talking for four hours at a time. She agreed and said we were all talkers.
There are no photos of her sisters and her together. They are always going in different directions.

“My mom has all of our basic training photos on the wall, and that’s the only place. One of my favorite stories is while I was deployed with my sister to Korea.”

“She came to see me and said, ‘Do you want to disappear from people today?’ We were services and hosting the exercise, in tent city at least. Everyone knows us eventually because they have to see us to check in for lodging or MWR. We wanted to get away from that for a little bit. My sister said we can’t go to our usual spots to eat because we will know someone there.”

Everyone always wants to chit-chat. Because we are so chatty, they are also open to conversation. So, my sister said let’s wander and find our own spot. We found this older lady who looked 100 years old and saw her go up to a wood stove. She could barely walk, lifted a medal post, scooped up coal, and walked inside. We were like, what is she doing? Let’s find her. That was our first experience ever learning or seeing what an authentic Korean BBQ was. She was taking the coal and pouring it into the center of the table, and here, the grill came down in the center, but there, the coals were scooped up in the middle of the table. We sat down. The few words we knew, we tried saying them. The few words they knew they were trying to say. All we could do was smile. It was before Google Chat – my sister and I had been in for a minute.

“One of our favorite things to do back home is to cook together. Asian food is our favorite.”

McFeron said they didn’t know what to do, so they watched as the lady smiled and patted them comfortably while cutting and flipping the meat.

“After that, we went back to socializing, took our friends to the little restaurant, and became regulars. Once a year, we always say Do you remember that one time we were in Korea. Since then, as we travel, we say to each other, let’s try to find Korean BBQ as good as that one time in Korea – it never hits the spot. I think it hit the spot because it was me and her together in a different country. That’s why it tasted so good. We’ll never forget the strong superwoman.”

Over drill weekend, McFeron will be promoted to Tech. Sgt. in front of her team of services, who will be all together to celebrate.

“I love being in so long, meeting so many people, knowing I have friends everywhere, no matter where, said McFeron.”

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining facility while deployed is one of the ways she gets to know people.

“I meet a lot of people in my career thousands of people know my face, being in this field. I got to know and meet a lot of people. It is cool and has its advantages.”

While in Corpus Christi at the beach recently, she found herself stuck in the sand.

“I haven’t lived at the beach long – I  lived in the ice and snow,” said McFeron. “I know how to get my car out of that. Sand and beach are new to me, but we’ll figure it out. My friend walked the beach. Troopers came by and didn’t offer to shovel people out anymore. They said you forgot to get a parking pass, and that’s another fine. This is the worst trip ever. It was terrible digging ourselves out of there.”
While digging, another trooper arrived to check the scene.

“I hear this thick southern voice; he says did you drive to Corpus Christi just to get stuck at the beach? I half looked up and said, turns out I did. I’m not having a good day. I came around to talk to them and looked at the new person. As soon as I looked up and made eye contact, I immediately said, “SMSgt Porter, he said, what are you doing down here?”

She had not seen her mentor since she first enlisted.

“He said, look at you, little Amn Hernandez. I asked him, “What are you doing here? He is a trooper down there and moved with his son. He said I’m doing fun stuff like pulling people out of the sand.”

“What a trip; I have not seen you in 10 years. But here you are, and he was one of my favorite mentors. I took a photo with him. Forget being stuck; this is the greatest day ever! He came to see what was up and had chains in his truck. I’ll be right back, he said. Because of him, I was good.” 

“I said I remember you being old, sir, as he took out his little notepad and wrote his number down. Stories like that are the best. The longer I’m in, the more stories like that I’m going to have.”