Air base operations kept at full speed by Reserve
April 6, 2003
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A week ago, Tech. Sgt. William Diggs was dropping letters into mailboxes in Greensboro, N.C.
Now, he’s traded his U.S. Postal Service uniform for Air Force fatigues and dropped in to this northern Honshu base, where he’ll spend two weeks helping renovate the Potter Fitness Center.
Diggs is one of 15 North Carolina reservists here for annual two-week active-duty commitment. And with many of Misawa’s 35th Services Squadron troops deployed for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, reservists such as Diggs are being welcomed with open arms.
“They will be a huge help to us since we have about 30 people deployed away from Misawa right now,” said Capt. Jim Beaty, the services squadron’s combat support flight commander.
He said he could not disclose the squadron’s overall strength because of security reasons.
Diggs’ commander, Capt. Patricia Keenan, is a teacher in Fayetteville, N.C. Although her troops didn’t get orders to a war zone, she says they’ll get the opportunity to lend a hand to the people who are.
“We’re part of the total force concept, and coming here gives our people experience they wouldn’t get at the home unit,” she said. While here, she’s helping the squadron to prepare for a Pacific Air Forces inspection team coming in November.
All are with the 916th Air Refueling Wing based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
Beaty says many of his deployed troops were told several weeks ago they will remain at their Middle East deployment locale indefinitely as the Iraqi conflict continues.
The reservists will help fill staffing gaps in Misawa’s busiest food and service outlets.
“We’ll have a good number of them working in the Grissom Dining Hall,” he said. “That’s one of three facilities we operate 24 hours daily, seven days a week.”
The Potter Fitness Center and Misawa’s lodging office also need around-the-clock staffing.
Senior Airman Marianne Kugel of Virginia Beach, Va., joined Diggs in preparing the fitness center’s cardiovascular room, where brand new treadmills and aerobic bicycle exercise equipment are being installed.
“I really don’t care what I do,” Kugel said as she ran a vacuum cleaner over a rug near the treadmills. “I’ll answer phones or work in here, it makes no difference to me.”
Beaty said he asked for reservist help to cover staffing shortfalls from December to the end of March, when the deployment was expected to return to Misawa. Now that return is up in the air.
Many services squadron workers are pulling 12-hour shifts, six days a week.
“So any help we get is greatly appreciated,” he said.
Kugel had a goal of her own before heading home.
“We’ll have the cardio room up and running before we leave, for sure,” she said.