Citizen today, warrior Airmen tomorrow

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stacy Gault
  • 313th Air Expeditionary Wing
Like any typical Saturday, Master Sgt. Jocelyn Fredrick planned to spend the weekend with her two young children.

But a phone call early in the morning changed all that.

Sergeant Fredrick, an Air National Guard intelligence specialist with the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh, Penn., was called to serve in Operation Odyssey Dawn and had approximately 24 hours to prepare to deploy.

As a mother, she had to transition from changing diapers to presenting briefings. Now serving with the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing with U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Sergeant Fredrick is responsible for monitoring adversaries and controlling information.

On April 1, the 313th AEW mission transitioned to Operation Unified Protector, a NATO-led mission in Libya to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack. The wing provides aerial refueling to U.S. and coalition aircraft with KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders.

Serving a state and federal mission, guardsmen are expected to be ready at a moment's notice. They balance a military and civilian life, but at any time can be called away from their civilian life to serve on active duty.

"I got a phone call from the base to be ready to deploy," Sergeant Fredrick said. "I took the kids to the park as planned, got one last grocery shopping trip in and went home to pack."

Members of the Air National Guard may have very different civilian occupations from their positions in the military. Guardsman Staff Sgt. Stephen Paluga, for example, is a stockbroker in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he's not repairing the navigation systems of KC-135s as an avionics technician with the 313th AEW.

"It's relieving to have two very different careers," said Sergeant Paluga, a member of the 161st Air Refueling Wing in Phoenix, Ariz.

As a stockbroker, he takes trades from clients and exchanges them on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq and provides advice for selecting mutual funds. Although his careers differ, Sergeant Paluga's attention to detail applies to his work in both jobs.

"When you place trades, if you're off by one number you could cause an error against yourself worth millions of dollars," he said.

Similarly, Sergeant Frederick said her patience and ability to multitask as a mother are very useful in a deployed environment.

With the variety of education benefits the Air National Guard offers, many Airmen are enrolled in higher education, which can be a challenge when an unplanned deployment arises.

Staff Sgt. Ty Beatty, a junior majoring in education at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, was ready to return from spring break and prepare for finals when he was activated by his home Air Guard unit, the 171st ARW.

He spent four years on active duty at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and is sharing his experience from previous deployments with the younger Airmen.

"I went from being the student to the teacher," Sergeant Beatty said. "It's a 180-degree turn."