Airman hooks salmon, but also hooks coin for a job well done

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Colton Tessness
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In the Air Force Reserve, annual training provides a highly beneficial period for Airmen to improve their skills in their designated career field.

Senior Airman Nathan Smith, a 934th Civil Engineering Squadron engineering apprentice, has been in the Air Force for two years and experienced AT for the first time here in August.

Training at the 934 CES has taught Smith a lot; on-site experience is something bigger bases can provide a better opportunity for. Smith found out JBER was the perfect place for this.

"This training is a great opportunity for Airman Smith to go out and do some real-world civil engineering work because stateside on drill weekends, there are some obstacles when it comes to training and equipment availability," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Fabiano, a 934 CES civil engineering craftsman.

This training gave him an in-depth look at what working on the jobsite of a civil engineering project looks like and allowed him to see the project move through its different stages of development.

"The training has enabled me to experience what other jobs in the civil engineering squadron do, such as operating heavy equipment and using a shovel to help excavate certain areas," said Smith.

This time here has given Smith hands-on training with equipment he doesn't usually have access to at home station in Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station. The skid loader that he uses to backfill trenches with dirt so the tubing for the electrical wire is protected underground is just an example of how this training enabled him to develop his proficiency in his career. 

"Since Smith is in upgrade training, this has been a great opportunity to get him hands-on training with core tasks instead of just talking about it over the drill weekend," Fabiano said.

Most importantly, this experience has shown him the engineers' roles and responsibilities at the jobsite. This includes surveying areas, project management, and soil testing in different regions.

Due to his high performance and eagerness to learn, Chief Master Sgt. James Orr, 934 CES chief of civil engineering operations, awarded a tricoin to Smith.

The tricoin is a challenge coin given to Airmen by the 1st Sgt., squadron chief, and the squadron commander. Smith's leadership was impressed by his positive attitude and willingness to help with different parts of the project that fell outside his job as an engineer.

"The attitude out here has been amazing and Smith has exemplified that; I never see him sitting around too long without anything to do," Fabiano said. "He's always the first to say, 'Hey, what can I do or what can I find and who can I help?' His willingness and excitement to learn has been awesome and as a supervisor, that's what you want in an Airman," Fabiano said.

Along with his career development, Smith made memories during his off time, including fishing for salmon in the Kenai River and scenic drives through Alaska.

"Traveling to Alaska has been a great experience," Smith said. "I have not traveled this far away from home before and thanks to the military, I can."