COMMENTARY - Commander for a day

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Catherine Donahue
  • 99th MDOS
For the past eight months, I've woken up at the same time every day knowing I go to work with a set schedule as a family practice clinic medical technician. My workday is extended on rare occasions when I have patients who require additional attention.

But on Nov. 15 I stepped out of my comfort zone when I shadowed the 99th Air Base Wing commander for a day--I had no idea what was in store for me

As a medic I don't have the opportunity to see what the rest of my fellow Airmen do. So to start the day coining an Airman for her outstanding performance while she was deployed was an eye-opening experience for me. Fortunately as the wing commander, Col. Michael Bartley has the chance to recognize these amazing Airmen and reward them for their hard-work and commitment to service.

I also had the chance to attend several of Colonel Bartley's conferences. It was incredible to witness firsthand what goes on behind the scenes. For example, the next air show is a year from now but the planning has already begun. Commanders from across Nellis came together to discuss previous air shows and collaborate improvements for future ones.

A lot of effort goes into planning these types of special events. The details of this meeting proved to be significantly different than what I would have suspected once I sat down with officers and discussed the finer planning points.

Once a quarter the commander sits down with his staff to discuss a wide array of particular financial obligations. For those of you who are unaware, a big issue right now is energy conservation. Colonel Bartley is a huge energy conservationist concerned with how Nellis can save both energy and money.

If you look closely around Nellis you might notice several landscape projects underway. Workers are replacing water-dependant grass landscaping with drought-tolerant desert landscaping. This will help save millions of dollars spent annually to water the grass. These savings give commanders a tool to address major concerns voiced by Nellis Airmen.

It's a difficult job running a base, especially one such as Nellis. So thank you Colonel Bartley for the chance to walk a day in your shoes. But that one day was enough for me, so I'll stick with my medical job and you keep running the base.

I was a little nervous to be spending the day with the wing commander. It's a different world than what I expected. Colonel Bartley made the day enjoyable and made me feel comfortable. It was an exciting day and a wonderful experience.

For everyone else, if you ever get an opportunity like this, take it! You'll experience what it's like to have the overwhelming responsibility of keeping Nellis up and running.