Career Focus: Many specialties but one team, one family

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- It seems like yesterday that I wrote my first Career Focus article for the Nucleus. Actually, it was June of 2005. Writing this article has always been the strangest part of my duties because I'm not really comfortable with writing.

I'm the crusty old aircraft mechanic who loves to fix problems using the fewest written words as possible. Nevertheless, I learned to do some journalism with the help of the public affairs staff, and writing the article became an excellent way to share career information.

When I took over as the career assistance advisor, I didn't really know what my job entailed. Sure, I had read the Air Force instruction and received an excellent turnover from my predecessor but words on paper can never truly define a job -- one has to do it.

Before long, I realized that the career advisor had three functions:

1. Counsel folks on career options and benefits.

2. Develop the enlisted force through professional development courses.

3. Advise commanders and supervisors on factors affecting retention along with briefing Airmen on the benefits of staying Air Force.

From those functions, I set a lofty goal: Eliminate career ignorance. Two years and few months later, my tour as your career advisor is officially over. I can't say that I fully achieved my goal, but I gave it my all. I may not have eliminated career ignorance, but with a lot of support from my peers, leaders and numerous agencies, a large amount of career ignorance was eliminated.

Prior to becoming the CAA, I served as an aircraft maintainer. I had never seen an Air Force outside of maintenance. To be honest, I didn't think that any career field had it as tough as maintainers and fliers.

This tour as the CAA really opened my eyes. I have had the privilege to visit folks from every specialty. I've heard about their struggles and witnessed their intense pride. I have listened to their cheers. Those cheers do more than reflect unit pride; they proclaim a unit's mission.

For example, Security Forces personnel shout "Defensor Fortis" (Defenders of the Force). Maintainers from the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron shout irreverently "Give 'em the bird" (translation: give aircrews safe and reliable aircraft). Every squadron has its cheer, but Kirtland has its own cheer to represent all of us: "Kirtland ... one team ... one fight!"

As the CAA, I've witnessed the pride and professionalism of many specialties, but I have also seen those specialties blend into one team and one family. Thank you for letting me see the Air Force from your many perspectives.

On Nov. 26, Master Sgt. Mariana Sobolewski took over as your career assistance advisor. She's a stellar performer and perfect for this special duty. If you seek career counseling or professional development, contact her at 846-6636.

As for me, I'm returning to the 58th Special Operations Wing and aircraft maintenance. I get to return to my dream job with greater insight, thanks to all of you.

From the halls of the consolidated support building to the flight deck of a C-130 and beyond, it has been fantastic serving alongside warriors who make the Air Force the most professional and family-oriented team on the planet. Thanks for all that you do to secure this nation's freedom!

See you in the wings!