News: NCO promoted via VTC
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
Regional Command-East Public Affairs Office
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When Army Staff Sgt. Chris Heugel became Sgt. 1st Class Chris Heugel April 1, he had an audience across three continents.
The 82nd Airborne Division fire support NCO made use of video teleconference technology so his family in the U.S. and his sister serving in Belgium could attend. Heugel's sister, a communications specialist, arranged the tele-promotion.
"She coordinated for us to do a VTC between here, my wife at Fort Bragg and my extended family in Michigan," he said. "She did it all in less than 24 hours."
For the Grand Rapids, Mich., native, the tele-promotion was a first for him.
"I've never even seen a VTC before," he quipped. "Every other promotion has been back at Bragg."
VTC technology allows people at different points and even different continents to view each other as they speak. The technology is mostly used for long distance meetings between headquarters and subordinate commands, but when not used for official business, the system can be used for other events.
"You just make a phone call to the other side, and they pick it up," said David Byrne, Combined Joint Task Force-82 audio-visual technician. "It's not hard."
In his two years working with the VTC, Byrne has seen four promotions and a silver-star presentation done over VTC.
"I'm sure it's a big deal to hear their voices and see the faces of their wife and kids," he said. "Helps them put a face to it."
"It's exciting to get to see my kids," Heugel said. "Usually they're in bed when I call."
Although he appreciates the opportunity, Heugel said he is not a fan of ceremony, and there have only been three in his career where he really wanted his family there.
"It wasn't for promotions, it wasn't for a bronze star," he said. "It was the three times I got off the plane after a combat deployment."
While the VTC can't help with that, it still allows combat troops to see their loved ones on their proudest days of deployment.
Date Posted:04.02.2007 18:03
Location:BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF
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