News: SVS members provide food, shelter, fitness during NE 2011
Story by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Whether it’s preparing mashed potatoes, cleaning workout equipment or checking guests into lodging, the 354th Force Support Squadron and forward-deployed members provide service members with food, rooms and fitness.
During this time of year, this is especially vital as more than 1,000 service members from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy descend upon the Fairbanks, Alaska, area in support of exercise Northern Edge 2011.
“I'm here to support Northern Edge to help out with their manning issues because of the influx of people,” said Staff Sgt. Felicia Hunt, 18th Force Support Squadron services journeyman from Kadena Air Base, Japan. “With all the TDY [temporary duty] personnel coming in, the base is expecting more people [than usual]. They need more people to help keep up with the equipment, with classes … just everything. We're filling all the services areas, though, not just fitness.”
Although Sgt. Hunt serves as a food service specialist at her home station, she is helping out at the Baker Field House Fitness and Sports Center here because it is currently short manned due to at least nine of its staff members being deployed downrange.
Sergeant Hunt is not the only member from Kadena AB forward deployed in support of NE 2011. Staff Sgt. Talandra Woods, also from the 18th FSS, is a services journeyman helping out as a front-desk clerk at the Gold Rush Inn here.
“It is kind of stressful with so many people coming in and having to check in all the time,” Sgt. Woods said. “But, I make sure everyone out here for Northern Edge has somewhere to stay and a place to lay their head at night.”
The stress, however, doesn’t deter Sgt. Woods from her job as a customer service representative.
“Something interesting most people don't know about our job is how friendly the interaction is -- how many people you get to know, the different customers you get to see,” she said. “It makes my day to see people who come in with a good attitude and to give them a good attitude back.”
And, Sgt. Woods has interacted with many customers as the inn, which has about 1,200 rooms, is at just about maximum capacity due to the exercise.
While Sgts. Hunt and Woods are holding it down at the inn and fitness center, Airman Andrew Clarke, 354th FSS services apprentice, helps keep things moving at the Two Seasons Dining Facility and does it with a smile on his face.
“Northern Edge to me is busy, busy, busy, busy ... non stop,” Airman Clarke said. “It keeps us on our toes. Who wants a boring job? I love that aspect of it; there's never a dull moment out here.”
Just how does the dining facility feed about 1,500 per meal?
“We have good supervision here,” the airman said. “It's a recipe for greatness. I'm happy to be working here -- nothing but good morale. We just take it one day at a time.”
That kind of attitude is seen across the spectrum of the services world at Eielson, both from those stationed here and those forward deployed for the exercise, and it’s what keeps them motivated.
“It keeps me energized to interact with everyone, because every person is different,” Sgt. Woods said. “You never know how their day is going, so for me to have a smile on my face when someone comes up -- it gives me energy; it keeps me going.”