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Port Dawg returns to Kuwait as RST

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Isaiah Soliz
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing

The Air Force prides itself on taking care of its members, both their needs and goals, but at the end of the day the needs of the Air Force remain paramount to accomplishing the mission; for one Airman, both lined up perfectly.

Tech. Sgt. Lindsay Barnes, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel religious affairs Airman, began her career as an air transportation specialist, commonly referred to as port dawg, an occupation that had her working in the passenger terminal.

Her responsibilities as an air transportation specialist included securely managing cargo and passengers and ensuring that everything and everyone on a military aircraft is transported safely and quickly.

“I was the front counter supervisor for the midnight to noon shift so it was a lot of long days; we were there 12 to 13 hours six days a week,” Barnes said. “We had a lot of troops coming in, we’d have times where the whole [passenger] terminal was full and we would have people sleeping on the floor while others are waiting on flights."

Barnes deployed twice during her time while working in air transportation.

“I was here this same time of year, but back in 2017,” Barnes said. “We saw a lot of different branches of the military and a lot of contractors coming through, so we dealt with a lot of different people.”

During her most-recent deployment in Kuwait, she began looking into what it takes to be a part of the base chapel team.

“I started looking into different job opportunities while I was deployed here and ironically I had my face-to-face interview with the wing chaplain and superintendent in the very office I know work beside,” Barnes said. “This is much more in my wheelhouse, I get to help people; I have some experience with counseling people because of this career field. This just fits my personality so I love it.”

The religious affairs Airmen are broken up into religious support teams, or RST’s, in an effort to efficiently reach more of the base populace. Each team is comprised of one chaplain and one religious affairs Airman who are then paired with a group or group of squadrons on base. This enables the RST’s to reach out to people and build relationships on a more personal level.

“Chaplain Seaman and I are assigned to the [Mission Support Group] and we went to a [Logistics Readiness Squadron] flight call the other day and the whole time I was thinking, ‘Wow, this was me less than three years ago!’” Barnes said. “When we spoke to them, I told them I remember how it feels and I remember how hard it is when you’re hearing about all the different fun things that the base has to offer but you can only do so much when you’re working these type of hours.”

The base chapel is not only a place of worship but also a place for Airmen to relax, decompress and visit with the friendly staff. In the deployed setting, the chapel corps aims to deliver spiritual and emotional support for those separated from their families and friends.

“I once used the chapel as a place of refuge, coming back here I wondered if I would no longer have any refuge now that I work at the chapel but I love it so much and I love all the people I work with that it doesn’t bother me,” Barnes said. “Although I try to give myself some time away from the work environment, I occasionally come in on my day off and it still feels like a personal refuge.”

Barnes appreciates the unique ways she has helped the Air Force mission.

“From my own personal job satisfaction, I love seeing how people are affected by the resources we provide; from providing a place for people to come vent to us or even for harder things like when we assist a human remains transfer, or helping to support with the disaster mental health team, it’s very fulfilling for me,” Barnes said. “If people don’t have the resources they need to do their job, then they will not be able to fulfill their missions, I feel that I was completing the mission both in air transportation and now in religious affairs.”