Our Job Never Stops
By Airman 1st Class Julia Pyun, 108th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 02, 2015
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- "You have to have a want and need to make a difference," said Senior Master Sgt. Julie Schechter, the 108th Wing Command Post superintendent. "There is no room for error in this job. It is too critical to do otherwise."
The 108th Wing Command Post Airmen work every day at all hours to include holidays and natural disasters. Each member works 12-hour shifts with a partner to receive and give messages for the wing. They have to have someone at the console at all times. During emergency situations, they are the first to find out in order to spread the word.
"We currently have eight Airmen working full time, one traditional guardsman and one Airman in training," said Schechter. "We are the only shop in the unit to have all enlisted members, and we report directly to the Vice Wing Commander. We are his eyes and ears."
To keep up with such a demanding job, they continuously read and learn technical materials to maintain their certifications to operate the console. They have to meet a monthly requirement to keep the certification, which is why the command post is mostly composed of full-timers. The requirement makes it difficult for traditional guardsmen, like Tech. Sgt. Katelyn Murphy, who only work once a month during drill weekends.
"I have to work 16 hours on the console during drill to keep my certification," said Murphy, a command post craftsman for the 108th Wing. "I was only able to have this position because I worked full time before."
Command post must work quickly and efficiently to handle any circumstance. They go through daily checklists to not overlook small details with everyday tasks, but they don't have guidelines for everything.
"It's not just about working a shift, but to have the integrity to always do what's right," said Schechter. "We need to be self-sufficient and held to a higher standard to prevent mistakes."
In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the east coast. The command post had to react using their training and experience to make the best decisions.
"Flying aircraft were told not to land," said Schechter. "We notified the commander and CE (sic) notified us when they checked the fuel lines. Everyone was able to work together to deal with something we've never dealt with before."
"We're always here," said Murphy. "Anyone can always call us if they need something. Even if it's late."