A view from the top

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Micky M. Pena
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen across the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, will now have the opportunity to experience life from the highest tier of the Wing's enlisted force.

Implemented by Command Chief Philip L. Easton, the Chief for a Day "shadow" program allows an Airman to shadow his position as senior enlisted advisor to wing leadership and the Commander, Brig. Gen. Jon T. Thomas.

Airman First Class Nader Hussein-Fernandez was the first chosen for this unique opportunity and stepped in to Easton's shoes March 3.

Hussein-Fernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, is an aerospace ground equipment technician with the 86th Maintenance Squadron.  His duty day usually consists of repairing aircraft, so Hussein-Fernandez had what he calls an "eye-opening experience" shadowing Easton.

Easton and Hussein-Fernandez spent their day visiting units within the 86th AW, discussing current issues with Wing leaders and enlisted Airmen, and ensuring the enlisted force is ready and capable of fulfilling the mission. The day gave Hussein-Fernandez a peek into how wing leadership functions.

"We were always on the move -- lots of briefings, lots of information being shared. It's hard to believe how little time they have for a break," said Hussein-Fernandez. "It was surprising, I thought they would be in the office more but they are constantly moving and out-the-door. We visited at least six different units in a matter of couple of hours."

One thing that Hussein-Fernandez especially took note of throughout his day was the mission readiness he witnessed first-hand across the wing. "People at each job were so prepared and ready at all levels to get the mission done," he said.

After standing in Easton's shoes for the day, Hussein-Fernandez also now has a different perspective of his role as an Airman and what he brings to the mission.

"You're always working, but you never get to see and fully understand leadership roles. You have to keep your mind open to the broader scale and not just think about your job only. I definitely have a better understanding of how the Air Force works on a grander scale now and how it trickles down to each and every single Airman," he said.

Easton says this is what he wants Airman to see, "I want Airmen to gain this perspective, to see that their job is essential and that what they bring to the fight keeps Team Ramstein moving, enabling our power projection platforms theater-wide."

Additionally, Hussein-Fernandez believes a program like this has the added bonus of also focusing Airmen by showing them exactly what their leaders are doing every day for them and is a great morale boost.

"This is a great experience for whoever goes through it, I feel lucky," Hussein-Fernandez said at the end of his day.

"I have a lot of respect for what they do. It may not be the same 'hands-on' work we are doing, but leading in itself takes a lot of work and dedication."

But Easton just hopes they gain some new perspective on the entire enlisted force.

"Mighty 86 Airmen may only see life and work within their units and offices; I hope that after some time with Wing leadership, they'll better see how Ramstein Air Base and the 86th AW functions, gaining a new appreciation for not only what every individual does, but also for what we accomplish together."