AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – A group of Airmen are sitting together and this question is asked: “Who knows what the Chief does?” With a blank look on each of their faces and a few vague answers, an idea for revisiting a previous Desert Chiefs' program was born.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justinne Doyle, non-commissioned officer in charge of decentralized material support with the 23rd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit and Staff Sgt. Leon Hill, an assistant non-commission officer in charge of decentralized material support with the 23rd EAMU, developed a blueprint here that allows Airmen to see the duties of Chiefs and the challenges they face in a deployed environment.
“I was lightly introduce to the idea around 2014-2015 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as we got an opportunity to shadow a mission support group chief and got to experience how insightful it was,” said Doyle. “I brought up the notion and that’s when we [Hill] began talking about bridging the gap along with the benefits.
“Airmen and younger non-commission officers may have a vision of one day doing their job. I actually don’t know what they do or the route it takes to get there,” said Hill.
The process started with communicating the idea to the Desert Chiefs professional organization. Doyle and Hill spoke about the purpose of the program, how the program would work, and answered any questions.
“Without them, we would have no program,” said Hill. “There were a lot of Chiefs that thought the program would be beneficial and wanted to take part in it.”
In May, the program had its first set of volunteers. Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Miller, superintendent with the 609th Air Operations Center and Tech. Sgt. Joseph Saldivar, special handler/cargo supervisor with the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron paired up.
“This opportunity sounded awesome and I was certain I would gain some knowledge and comprehension to apply within our operation,” said Saldivar. “I truly believe in mentorship and the possibilities it has to shorten the performance gap between high level-leadership and those on the ground.”
They spent their time together by attending briefings and touring facilities. The scheduled events provided a glimpse into the challenges and concerns that occur, along with how they take care of the Airmen and their families.
“He impressed me with the position’s descriptions for each of his fellow staff members,” said Saldivar. “From the Airmen, co-workers, and superiors, he knew each position’s daily, weekly, and monthly requirements.”
Seeing it as change, to paying it forward, Miller saw this as an opportunity to honor his mentor.
“I owe my success to retired Chief Master Sgt. Agnes Villalobos. I worked for her three different times in my career and she always held me to high standards and expectations,” said Miller. “I see this opportunity to give back as a tribute to the legacy and foundation she laid out for me and am sure many others.”
Dreaming of the possibilities of where this program could go, Doyle and Hill’s faces light up with excitement.
“If it can catch on fire and go to other bases, it would be amazing. Many of us Airmen come in and say, “I want to be a Chief one day,” said Doyle. “Hopefully, they will stay in touch and become lifelong mentors and mentees.”
(Editor's Note: This article was revised to provide clarity into the Chief Shadowing Program at Al Udeid Air Base. The Chief Shadowing Program was implemented several years ago at Al Udeid Air Base. However, due to the number of rotations that have deployed here over the years, the program was inactive as of late and re-launched by Airmen here in May 2017.)