News: Texas ANG finance troop wears multiple hats in Norway
Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
RYGGE AIR STATION, Norway – A financial program manager with the comptroller flight of Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas wore multiple hats during a deployment here, Aug. 12-23, 2013.
Staff Sgt. Liza McClaren, a native of Killeen, Texas deployed to Norway with the 149th Civil Engineering Squadron (CES), a subordinate unit of the wing, to provide financial and operations services for about 50 deployed Texas Air National Guardsmen, said Master Sgt. Simon Guerra, the squadron’s first sergeant.
The Texas civil engineers were in Norway as part of the National Guard Bureau’s deployment for training program, Guerra said. They worked alongside Royal Norwegian military officials, including cadets from the Norwegian Military Academy (Krigsskolen), at Camp Linderud, in Oslo.
Senior cadets led and managed six different engineering projects during the bilateral exercise, which was called Impeccable Glove 2013.
“We asked for support (from the comptroller flight) to help our members work through complex pay issues that can arise,” Guerra said. “When travelling to austere locales, we want to have appropriate personnel. In this case, there’s not a U.S. military base nearby to help with these issues.”
McClaren, who’s previously deployed with the wing to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., for Coronet Cactus, the capstone exercise for the ANG unit’s F-16 Fighting Falcon training program, said she appreciated the opportunity help with the CES deployment and to represent the comptroller flight.
The flight reports to the wing commander on budgetary and financial matters that involve personnel and programs throughout the organization, she said.
“It’s nice to meet the faces behind the scenes,” said McClaren. “And to let them know how we can help them. We see their names, but don’t always get to know them or understand what they do.”
“This was a great opportunity to build relationships,” McClaren said.
In addition to processing and correcting pay and travel documents for the citizen-airmen, McClaren volunteered to put on a hard hat and embedded herself with one of the U.S. Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) crews during the Norwegian exercise, Guerra said.
“It was completely voluntary,” Guerra said. “She offered to help, so we gave her safety training and assigned her to a supervisor. The work was mostly labor, so it’s not too complex – she was very helpful.”
McClaren helped assemble and raise a steel-frame structure at Krigsskolen.
“It was a nice change of pace,” said McClaren, who normally works behind a computer.
In addition to building camaraderie and understanding, McClaren was able to resolve several issues.
“We were able to work some pay issues,” said McClaren. “This was important for the members, because many of them are traditional (part-time guardsmen) and may not have access to our services for another month or more.”
Her work didn’t go unnoticed.
“We were glad to have her,” said Tech. Sgt. Benito Gonzales, a structures supervisor. “She worked above and beyond anything we expected.”