Name: Erica Tilley
(Day job: Antenna maintenance team chief) "We serve 28 facilities in the northern half of the Republic of Korea, maintain more than 100 towers, studio transmission links and antenna systems, conduct preventive maintenance inspections and repairs."
How tall are these antennas?
From 50 feet to 320 feet.
You must see some great views up there. Got a favorite?
The views on a clear day are spectacular … breathtaking. … From some vantage points I see the river that snakes along the DMZ … from another, a mountain divides east from west so sunrises and sunsets are heavenly.
What are your typical winter working conditions?
Safety characterizes the typical winter duty day. … I have been empowered by my supervisor, in conjunction with our standing operating procedure pre-climb checklist, to … determine if the climb is a go or no-go.
What’s the toughest part?
Being on the road so much … at least three to four times a week. … We are TDY for missions almost every other month [and] if a system goes down in the middle of the night, we are called.
The most rewarding?
Knowledge of a job well done. Command teams and everyday soldiers depend on the strategic-level communication links we maintain.
How would you like to spend a snowy/rainy day off duty?
At home cooking and listening to Brazilian jazz. Later, curling up with a good book, followed by doing my nails.
Got a motto?
Our motto just recently changed to “Strength and Honor.” I think it’s an appropriate characterization of our mission and how we live our lives. We in the Maintenance Support Team are always ready, we must be reliable and most importantly, we must be exact in our efforts. Thousands of servicemen and servicewomen depend on us. … My team and I reaffirm our commitment to excellence each time we climb because so much depends on us.
If they made a movie of your life to date, who should play you?
Jada Pickett Smith.
Any tricks to staying warm atop an antenna?
Keep moving. I always suggest to my young soldiers to do jumping jacks to keep warm. This also helps to elevate the endorphins promoting happiness — on a small scale but every little bit counts. Dressing in layers of loose-fitting clothing helps. … The team and I rotate to prevent cold injuries and maintain effectiveness.
Before this job, what was the highest you’d ever climbed?
Maybe 10 feet.
What won’t you deploy without?
My music is essential for long road trips. My library of songs makes the time sail by.
What kind of a person is cut out for this work?
Safety-conscience, mission-focused, physically fit, enjoys the thrill of heights, is resourceful.
Who should avoid it?
Horseplay is never desirable when performing maintenance.
What posting would you like next?
I’ve enjoyed the Army immensely and would recommend it to anyone considering joining the fight for freedom and democracy but I am contemplating exiting the service for other endeavors. If I stayed … I’d consider returning to Europe. I have fond memories of my time in Germany.
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