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Resiliency pays off for rock solid warrior, soldier of the month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Working to stand up a forward operating base’s communications and network infrastructure from the ground up is not an easy task. Airmen assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Squadron accepted that challenge working around the clock in an austere environment, digging trenches and laying cables to supply communication services to joint service military members deployed to Syria.

One of those Airmen, Airman 1st Class Jason Wainer, a cyber transport systems technician deployed from the 5th Combat Communications Group, stood out from the rest. His drive, determination and positive outlook set him apart as an example to all to remain resilient and always want more.

Joining the Air Force in 2016, Wainer deployed to Syria in support of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve less than five months after getting to his first duty station, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Though relatively new to the Air Force, Wainer has already made an impact.

“The positive attitude and extraordinary professionalism of A1C Wainer is commensurate with the attitude and professionalism of all the young men and women deployed to Syria,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Johnson, the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group superintendent. “Our Air Force and the operations in Syria are better because of people like him. He is truly an inspirational exemplar to all Airmen, young and old.”

Though Wainer worked at a geographically separated location, far from the rest of his unit, word of his reputation and impact traveled back to the 386th EOG leadership and he was subsequently selected as a Rock Solid Warrior for the wing. The Rock Solid Warrior program is a way to recognize and spotlight the Airmen of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing for their positive impact and commitment to the mission. 

Receiving recognition and the coveted wing commander coin from Col. Stephen L. Hodge, the 386th AEW commander, Wainer was delighted and honored but remained humble for his achievements. 

“From the moment I graduated basic military training, through tech school, and even to this day, I have been told countless times, be the best at your job,” said Wainer. “Always keep a bright and upbeat attitude, as it will reflect on others working around you. Keep going even if your work goes unnoticed. In the end we all have one mission. So let’s get it done to the best of our ability. No matter the role you play in the overall scheme of things, what you do does matter and does affect the mission.”

For Wainer, his job affected everyone at the forward operating base and the mission at hand. Wainer and his team was in charge of setting up the network infrastructure to include routers, switches, and other various devices to provide phone and computer services to fulfill the demands of the deployed joint service units. After all the trenches were dug, and cables were buried he had to configure, provide, maintain, and troubleshoot all of the communication services.

“Nothing was as satisfying and rewarding as when we finally got our services 100 percent up and running,” declared Wainer. “For the first month and a half, it was draining. Imagine that you’re coming into work, sitting down to configure your network for 18 plus hours staring at the computer screen. You are trying to figure out what you are missing from your configurations to finally get your services up and running. But you’re drained and need sleep. So you go to bed for four to six hours only to get up to the same problem day-in and day-out. Leadership is constantly hovering over you asking if the network is up and running, and you’re trying to keep a calm mind when all of these factors happen at one time."

“Thinking about it now, it’s weird that it actually happened,” said Wainer. “When we finally got services up, that was the proudest moment in the whole deployment. I am so thankful to have such wonderful mentors, Tech. Sgts. Thomas Dunn and Larry Aguon, who taught me along the way as we configured the network, and the lessons learned from this deployment as a whole.”

Wainer’s learning during his time in Syria extended far past his career field knowledge enhancement. He stated he learned from the many personal challenges he confronted dealing with his resiliency, physical fitness, confidence and spirituality. Furthermore, Wainer learned about joint service and the culture and customs of other services. 

Wainer was selected as the FOB’s June soldier of the month, beating out 21 other servicemembers, predominantly Army. In order to obtain the title, Army troop of the month, Wainer participated in the Army’s physical fitness test and went before a joint service board that tested his knowledge on current events, the base defense plan, weapon assembly and other joint military facts.   

Having learned a lot, Wainer is grateful for his experiences and all that he achieved. Not only will he leave the Middle East with an Army achievement medal, for his selection as soldier of the month, and the 386th AEW commander’s coin, but most importantly a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. 

Wainer, on his continuous drive for self and team improvement, stated he is pumped to go back to his home station and share his acquired knowledge and lessons learned with his unit, all while continuing to strengthen his pillars of resiliency. 

“I’m always confronted by my challenges even to this day,” said Wainer. “But how I overcome them is to learn from all experiences, and apply them the next time a situation happens, which I know will happen again in my military career. These principles of leadership, confidence, physical fitness, and spirituality, will always follow me throughout my military and civilian career as it would for anybody else. Nobody is perfect, and with that, one will always strive for perfection to better themselves and the people around them.”