JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. - It was like many other Friday mornings at Andrews. The base bustled; busy with myriad missions that affect nations across the globe. One airman from the 744th Communications Group here, like thousands of other service members, suited up for work. For him, though, this wasn't a typical work day.
Wade Fielder of Paso Robles, Calif., a 744th CG cyber transportation systems technician, ditched his ABUs in favor of a fresh-pressed service dress uniform sporting the single-stripe rank of Airman as he prepared to meet some high-ranking individuals.
This newcomer to the Air Force was part of a farewell ceremony for the longest-serving Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, June 21, 2013. Fielder volunteered to be an usher who would escort and direct Donley's guests to their seats in historic Hangar Three before the ceremony.
"I think it was an honor to be involved with such an important event that affects the whole Air Force," said Fielder, who has been in the Air Force a little more than a year. "This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to volunteer."
Fielder said opportunity was his reason for joining the Air Force, but he never dreamt he'd have a role in such a high-profile event.
"For me, high school was rough, and I didn't get the best grades," he said. "I wanted to find a path that would allow me to reach my full potential, and the Air Force has given me opportunities I wouldn't have found anywhere else."
Fielder has been an honor graduate at two technical training schools, Information Technology Fundamentals and Cyber Transportation Systems, and scored a 97 percent on his Career Development Course end of course test - one of the highest scores so far for the 744th.
"It's all about the environment," Fielder said, referring to the contrast between his high school career and the Air Force. "Having good people around you who have common interests and goals makes all the difference. The Air Force can be tough too, but if you're up for a challenge, this is where you need to be."
Fielder's uncommon opportunity, and his willingness to sieze it, brought him face-to-face with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force Norton Schwartz, and several other influential Air Force leaders -- fulfilling the 11th Wing mission of ambassadorship in a way he never thought possible.