Four decades later, opportunity knocks

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

A deployment is something many service members hope they never get tasked with, let alone volunteer for. However, after nearly four decades, one Airman here finally had the chance to experience what his Airmen experience downrange.

Mr. Pedro, chief of the Recreational and Community Services program at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, has volunteered for a deployment as a civilian before, but ended up facing a challenge that some active duty Airmen face as well, being released by his commander.

“I have volunteered and been selected before, but was not able to be released,” said Pedro. “I got very lucky that I have been very persistent with trying to deploy. There was another person at my level that could replace me for six months before they retired.”

Pedro is the Air Force Materiel Command Services Executive Advisor at Wright Patterson AFB, OH. With close to 36 years of service, Pedro listened to what his Airmen were saying about deployments and decided that it was time to see how he can lend a hand.

“I kept hearing about the challenges they face and how difficult it can be at times,” said Pedro. “I decided that I wanted to go and experience what they experience and find out how I can help.”

Not long after arriving for his six month deployment, Pedro recognized the daily challenges his Airmen were encountering, and hopes to restructure home station training for Airmen prior to their deployments.

“I truly think we are missing the mark in training when we deploy our Services Airmen,” said Pedro. “They don’t have the needed knowledge to run the programs that they are required to run while deployed.”

Pedro is responsible for all quality of life programs here and says that working programs here is different than what they are in the States.

“In the States, we have to plan ahead so people have time to participate,” said Pedro. “Over here, we do programs and everyone comes to participate. It is a really good feeling to see that people appreciate what we do.”

Pedro said it is important for him to provide his services to the service members assigned here because of the amount of work they put in throughout the week.

“Most people work a 12-hour shift, six days a week,” said Pedro. “They need a place to just get away from work or to get out of their room. We provide for the Airmen so they have time to relax and have a good time after returning from a tough mission or a long day of work.”

Pedro attributes the success of the quality of life programs to his Airmen that work for him every day.

“My Airmen are the ones who run the programs,” said Pedro. “I am here to support them and help them out, but they are the champions. I am very proud of them and they are the reason I am here.”

The Airmen that work for him are not the only reason for being here. He also gives credit to someone who is a little closer to home to him.

“My family knew I wanted to do this for a long time,” said Pedro. “But I could not go until my wife said yes. Without my family’s support, I would not be here.”

While enduring the same challenges that all Airmen face during deployments, there is one experience that Mr. Pedro has over everyone else on base. According to Personnel Support for Contingency Operations, Pedro is the oldest person here, having recently celebrated his 60th birthday.

“That makes me feel kind of old,” said Pedro. “But I feel very good, very strong and I can hang with any of these guys. I am very excited to be here, working day and night and having fun while doing it.”

After serving close to 36 years and counting, Pedro would like provide some encouraging words to younger Airmen who are looking to make a career out of serving as well.

“Do it for your country,” said Pedro.

(Editor’s note: Due to safety and security reasons, last names and unit designators were removed.)