Every Airman a part of the fight – special thank you to 3rd Air Force Communicators

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson Jr.
  • 3rd Air Force Command Chief
Every Airman within 3rd Air Force plays a critical role in executing the Air Force's overall mission, to fly, fight and win... in air space, and cyberspace. The individual contributions of each Airman are the determining factor between mission success or failure.

As 3rd Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove and I travel throughout the European theater, we see Airmen not just accomplishing this mission, but doing so with innovation and enthusiasm.

One of Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz's most important messages is directed to the individual Airman of the Air Force - "the value of your contribution to the fight is not measured by your proximity to the target."

In support of that message, we're dedicated to highlighting the massive contributions of the individual career fields and show the unique elements each specialty brings to the fight.

This month, we will take a look at the major sacrifices our 3rd Air Force communicators routinely make in support of U.S. European Command's mission.

To illustrate this point, let's take a look at the daily activities of a few 3rd Air Force's outstanding communicators.

One of 3rd Air Force's great communicators is Tech. Sgt. Fanny Wright, a unit security manager and force development non-commissioned officer in charge with the 31st Communications Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy. Sergeant Wright plays a vital role in sustaining the readiness of 273 personnel. She ensures the accuracy of all security clearance information, thus securing access to mission critical command and control platforms for U.S. and NATO information resources. She's the driving force behind the wing's segment of the Department of Defense Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program. Sergeant Wright tracks the training and certification requirements for more than 150 personnel and 115 special education identifier coded positions. Without outstanding communicators like Sergeant Wright, 3rd Air Force would not be able to perform its mission.

Without network configuration administrators like Senior Airman Nicholas Linneman with the 48th Communication Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, no one would maintain the integrity and security of the e-mail servers hosting more than 20,000 users, providing e-mail capability UK-wide. Airman Linneman is the resident expert on Blackberry devices, affording global connectivity and solidifying 24/7/365 command and control for Liberty Wing's leadership. In addition, he maintains the classified network, protecting it from all security vulnerabilities to enable secure operations for the 48th Fighter Wing.

Another 3rd Air Force's key communicator is Staff Sgt. Brandon Yarborough, a Satellite Wideband and Telemetry Systems technician with the 1st Combat Communications Squadron, Ramstein AB, Germany. Sergeant Yarborough manages the status of 180 personnel and tons of mission-critical equipment in the Air Expeditionary Force Reporting Tool. His efforts provide 3rd Air Force planners near real time insight of 132 Unit Type Codes. His expert management of the Status of Resources and Training System was identified as "best in the wing" and was benchmarked for 86th Air Wing units. Without his daily contributions, 3rd Air Force mission success rate would suffer, and ultimately, the mission would fail.

There is also ground radio communications apprentice Airman 1st Class Nicholas Hilton, with the 48th CS at RAF Lakenheath. Airman Hilton maintains the air-to-air and air-to-ground communications capability to 72 F-15s, supporting more than 14,000 sorties annually. His expert oversight of the land mobile radio system provide first-class voice communications to command and control elements and emergency responders across the United Kingdom's two largest wings. Additionally, he maintains the giant voice for RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell, affording mass notification capability to more than 10,000 personnel. Without this world-class communicator, 3rd Air Force's ability to communicate would be severely limited.

And there is Staff Sgt. Shawn Johnson, airfield systems supervisor with the 65th Communications Squadron at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. Sergeant Johnson performed well in all his assignments, from deploying to the Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to his amazing accomplishments at Lajes Field. He overcame a two-year-long, lightning-induced outage and repaired the Tactical Air Navigation which drastically increased the base's global reach capability. He taught depot-level antenna alignment to fellow technicians. Those efforts saved more than $2,500 in repair cost and provided the unit with a new maintenance capability. In addition, Sergeant Johnson rewired three air-traffic-control radio couplers and increased their frequency range to more than 20 nanometers. His efforts have drastically improved the 3rd Air Force communication infrastructure and is the type of NCO we count on every day to successfully carry out our mission.

Without the collective efforts of all the 3rd Air Force communicators assigned throughout Europe, our ability to communicate would be severely hampered.

That's why it's imperative all Air Force Airmen apply themselves each day to the job at hand -- so we can take the fight to our adversaries successfully today and tomorrow. Simply put, without the daily contributions of all 36,000 members assigned to 3rd Air Force throughout Europe, the Air Force would fail.

Remember, the value of your contribution to the fight is not measured by your proximity to the target - no matter where you serve; you are a critical part of a command at peace and war.