Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Face of Defense: NCO Manages Airfield in Iraq
“I have to drive around the entire flightline three or four times during my 12-hour shift,” said Washington, who serves with the 447th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron as the airfield’s operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
“I come out here more often,” she added, “if it’s raining, a pilot reports debris on the airfield or if there are birds or other animals near the runway.”
’s job, she said, is to make sure the landing, take-off and taxiways are clear of debris. Foreign objects can cause damage to aircraft and jeopardize the lives of aircrews. Washington
One of the most dangerous situations comes from birds, the
, native said. Dothan, Ala.
“I conduct bird aircraft strike hazard checks,” said Washington, who deployed to Iraq from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “These [checks] make sure crews have a safe airfield by scaring birds away, or removing them from the flightline and out of the path of the planes.”
“I have two uncles and a cousin who did 20-year military careers,” she said. “The one who influenced me the most was my cousin who retired from the U.S. Army. He told me the good and the bad about military life and ultimately is the one who advised me to join the Air Force, if I decided to join.”
“I love what the military stands for,”
said. “I love the job I do, and the many ways I contribute to helping others while deployed in Washington and at home at Shaw.” Iraq
Once a month,
volunteers to visit with impoverished Iraqi families to distribute shoes, clothes and candy. Washington
“They want the same thing as we do for our families,” she said. “They want to provide for them and live in a safe environment. It’s worth it to see the smiling faces.”
continues her daily trips around the flightline, keeping it open and secure for medical evacuation missions, contingency operations and delivery of supplies in support of Operation New Dawn. Washington
brings continuity, consistency and professionalism to our team,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Macumber, the deputy airfield manager, who’s a member of the New York Air National Guard, deployed from Hancock Field, Washington Syracuse, N.Y.
“The mission always flows smoothly, safely and efficiently when she’s on duty,” Macumber said.