From pulling chocks to medical talks – One Team, One Fight

by Airman 1st Class Ilyana A. Escalona, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
Stripes Korea

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Medical Support Squadron and the 51st Air Maintenance Squadron came together to participate in an Airman exchange initiative.

The purpose of the initiative, created by Senior Master Sgt. Marcia Swenson, 51st MDSS superintendent, allows Airmen to step away from their day-to-day jobs to see what Airmen from different units do to contribute to the 51st Fighter Wing mission.

“I know that part of the Wing Commander's vision is for every Airman to understand how they fit into the mission at Osan,” said Swenson. “I believe that if we get our Airmen out into the other units, they can see not only how they work but how they can then provide better support for them.”

During the Airman exchange, two units select one Airman from their sections to spend a day learning about the other’s everyday duties.

Staff Sgt. Nikita Canalin, 51st AMXS avionics system technician, spent a day traveling to various sections around the 51st Medical group learning about each one’s job and receiving on-the-job training from medical personnel.

Canalin used sampling kits to test for biological materials, learned about the decontamination process patients would endure during wartime contingencies, filled pharmaceutical prescriptions, performed sutures and IV insertions on prosthetic training parts, ensured that medical inventory was accounted for and completed many other duties.

“Today was a good experience and I think this program will really help our junior enlisted members with seeing the bigger picture and knowing that they have options if they are not satisfied with their jobs,” said Canalin. “Once you come into the service, you are trained to focus on your job and become efficient in it which sometimes doesn’t allow for you to really know that there are other job options that you can explore. I feel that seeing other jobs firsthand might even deter Airmen from just leaving the Air Force and instead changing to a career field that better suits them and their needs.”

Master Sgt. Jacob Komenda, 51st AMXS specialist section chief, hosted Airman 1st Class Zachary Smith, 51st MDSS commander’s support section technician, at the flightline to learn about maintenance duties.

“Everybody has a job and daily duties that not a lot of us get to understand,” said Komenda. “There’s a lot of animosity sometimes between different career fields because we don’t get to see what the other side does. I wanted to bring people here so they can see what we do and I want to bring my people out to other units so they can see what the base does in hopes of eliminating the barrier between each other.”

While participating in the exchange, Smith received a flightline orientation, aircraft, egress, and cockpit familiarization, performed crew chief duties and aircraft launching procedures.

“Today has been the coolest thing I’ve done since I’ve been here,” said Smith. “I often think of other career fields and what their people are doing. In the med group, we don’t really get to talk to anybody outside of the med group so it’s nice to be able to see everything that goes into getting these planes in the air.”

Smith went to different hangars and was able to speak with some maintenance Airmen about their jobs and how their duties may intertwine at times leading to mission success.

“I think this program is going to raise awareness for what the mission is here and allow for people to understand that this isn’t just any other assignment,” said Smith. “We are a forward operating base and we take part in a massive armament. We should understand how we all fit into each part of the mission.”

Photo Caption:

Staff Sgt. Michelle Smith, 51st Aerospace Medical Squadron NCO in charge of readiness plans and operations, demonstrates how to use a sampling kit to test for biological agents with Staff Sgt. Nikita Canalin, 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics system technician, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2018. During the Airman exchange, Canalin not only learned about day-to-day operations performed by medical technicians but also learned how to perform mission critical duties in a contingency.

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