Wild Weasel firefighter puts out flames on first assignment jitters
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Post boot camp, Airmen begin technical school to become trained and well-versed in their respective career fields. After weeks of hands-on training and classroom direction, students prepare for graduation while looking forward to a crucial document which separates them from their next endeavor: permanent change of station orders.
While tech school focuses primarily on teaching students proper and efficient job performance, it’s the Airmen’s responsibility to master getting settled again.
Anticipation of future assignments can create a gut-twisting feeling, leaving Airmen anxious, restless and even uneasy, but Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, combatted first assignment jitters with fun, exploration and self-discovery.
“When I received orders to Misawa Air Base, Japan, I initially felt discouraged because living far away from my family and starting a whole new life without them wasn’t ideal,” expressed Cardona. “When my fear subsided, my time here became something better than I could have ever expected.”
Cardona’s co-worker agreed changing bases can be difficult.
“It’s normal for an Airman to feel nervous when PCSing to their first base,” explained Staff Sgt. Brendon Sample, a 35th CES lead firefighter. “The adjustment period varies for everyone, but getting out of your comfort zone and exploring makes the transition much easier.”
Due to the inviting nature of local members, Cardona said he felt ready to break out of his shell and explore the area.
“Misawa City residents make you instantly feel a part of the community,” he added with a smile on his face. “They are kind, generous and always respectful. I feel a sense of freedom, security and belonging.”
Despite embracing his new home, Cardona still faced challenges associated with being stationed overseas.
“Being in the rural area can make it tough to find ‘city-like’ activities to do,” he explained. “But appreciating the great outdoors and all the things you can do, like hiking, swimming and snowboarding, makes Misawa City a great place to live.”
Although Misawa City lacks fancy bright lights, skyscrapers or the roar of the city filling the night sky, Cardona discovered a more personal and profound achievement.
“My mental strength grew a great deal since being stationed here,” he explained. “Residing in this region is no easy task because we have to maintain that ‘fight tonight’ mentality. The training exercises and workload is heavier than I expected, but I appreciate how my shop makes readiness a top priority.”
Cardona added he’s more equipped to respond during difficult situations because his leadership provided him the necessary guidance and structure.
“I advise my Airmen to create and maintain a strong mental, physical and spiritual foundation,” expressed Sample. “Since our career field is demanding and fast-paced, it’s important to learn and grow from every bad and good experience thrown your way.”
In addition to Airmen seeing all days, regardless of the circumstance, as a learning experience, Cardona believed it’s most important to set goals and have something to always look forward to.
“I look forward to attending the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he expressed. “If it wasn’t for the close proximity from Misawa AB to the event, I know I wouldn’t have a chance at attending, so I am forever grateful for my orders here. I haven’t experienced this much adventure, fun and personal growth before.”
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