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Face of Defense: No Office, No Problem for Flight Equipment Airman

By Air Force Master Sgt. Leisa Grant, Michigan Air National Guard

ALPENA COMBAT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, Mich., Aug. 26, 2016 — When Air Force Senior Airman Zachary Allen, an aircrew flight equipment technician assigned to the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing, arrived here for Northern Strike 2016, he discovered he didn’t have an office from which to work.

He didn’t even have table, a desk or a shelf.

“I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “I thought I might get my own [work] room, but … it’s not a big deal. I have my one big Pelican case with all my extra gear.”

Not having a work area is not necessarily rare in some career fields, but might be if you are accustomed to a large multi-room workspace. Allen’s flight equipment shop in Montana has separate rooms for oxygen equipment, flotation devices and parachutes.

“Everything is in one giant shop there,” he said. “Our parachute tables alone are 43 feet long.”

Making Do

As with deployments or any other new area of operation for an airman, Allen had no choice but to work with what was made available to him -- a few hard cases and the inside of a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft.

After each flight he has limited time to perform his duties before the aircraft is sealed -- shut up for the rest of the day or until the next mission. He cleans the quick-don oxygen masks, whether used or not, and he resets the safety harnesses in the aircraft.

“It’s simpler, and there isn’t as much work that I have to do,” said Allen, adding that he has been helping base operations, going to the drop zones to assist in retrieving items and pitching in where extra help is needed.

This was Allen’s first Northern Strike exercise, and while he has not yet deployed overseas, he will be ready to roll with just a suitcase and a smile, regardless of the kind of workspace he is given.

His philosophy is simple: You have to “use what you got, and make the best of it,” he said. “And if you don’t get what you want or need … move on, because complaining ain’t gonna fix it.”

Distribution channels: Military