ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait – There is a story about a woman who escaped death by telling a new story to her captor every night. In the movies, a protagonist can distract their opponent with a gripping monologue that ultimately leads to the villain’s demise. There is a power in words which, if used with care, can spur people to action, cut deeper than any knife and stop evil as effectively as a bullet. But now, more than ever, it’s important that stories are accurate, complete and fair. This is what the members of the Public Affairs team strive for every day: to deliver a message efficiently and as quickly as the agility of our mission. Like the legendary woman who painted a new story every day, we do the same – for everyone who logs in.
“Telling stories of all kinds builds relationships,” Tech said. sergeant. Patrick Evenson, who was the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs NCO for three months before deploying forward for 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs. “When we get home, we’ll be at a table in a local café or brewery, telling stories to our friends and family about it. [deployment]. It’s the same with PA. It may be more professional or official, but relationships with our host nation, the American people and between the military in the field are being built.
The entire PA Workshop of the January-July 2022 rotation were all members of the Air National Guard and brought the skills of their civilian professions to the realm of the PA career in an active duty environment. Coming from a video production background on the civilian side, Evenson joined the Marine Corps in 2007 as a combat photographer and moved into public affairs with the Missouri Air National Guard in 2013.
“The PA exists to communicate with the American public and provide context for military operations and their taxes; military friends and families; leaders from squadron commanders to our leaders in DC to give them another tool to gain situational awareness by putting their feet in the boots of the men and women in the field; and perhaps above all our adversaries, so that they know through strategic communication what strength we are and [deter] them,” Evenson said.
Capt. Melissa Heintz, head of public affairs for the 386th AEW, came to the rotation with a wealth of knowledge in the PA field, having received a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communications and Spanish, where she developed a passion for connecting with people and storytelling. She held various public affairs positions for the federal government as a civilian before joining the Air National Guard in 2015.
“Our mission in PA is to provide a free flow of information to the public, whether domestic or international, to inform them of the role of the United States Air Force and to gain their support for our personnel, our resources and our missions,” said Heintz. “PA is also responsible for connecting with different audiences through community engagement, whether it’s a grassroots tour with members of Congress, an open house, or an air show featuring feature the Thunderbirds, advise the motion picture industry on accurate portrayals of Air Force personnel in their productions, or host a band concert. We also create public affairs guidance, plans and strategy for communications aligned with the commander’s intent and priorities, and then we evaluate the effectiveness of our messaging strategies. So, as you can see, it’s not just about taking pictures!”
Staff Sgt. 386th AEW/PA Superintendent Arthur Wright kept the stories flowing, scheduling multiple shoots and opportunities for his Airmen to capture footage and interviews. He joined Air National Guard Public Affairs in 2016 after serving six years in the Air Force Reserve and four years on active duty. His civilian career is in broadcast news where he works as a presenter at a local television station. His experience set the team up for success, being the first PA specialist in the field for the deployment rotation and running a one-man shop for the first two weeks.
“My favorite part of the job is the front row seat where the Air Force is today and tomorrow,” Wright said. “The travel possibilities and unlimited access to the latest equipment to document is what excites me. Our efforts reached more than 60 million people around the world and underscored why 386 AEW matters to this part of the globe.
Overall, the public affairs store has had many notable accomplishments. They hosted a virtual show and event with NASCAR for the Coca Cola Mission 600 event. They showed NASCAR pilot Jeffrey Logano a tour of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and demonstrated how Air Force aircraft are specially equipped for complex maneuvers beyond the capabilities of commercial aircraft, much like a race car versus a standard personal vehicle. They participated in a Women’s Diwaniya – a forum that brought together US servicewomen and Kuwaiti women in discussions about empowerment and networking.
Technicians from the 386th AEW/PA have released the most product of any wing in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility during their rotation, unwavering in the steady pace of the weekly release of articles, videos and photos of the mission.
Coming from the information technology world, Senior Airman Daira Jackson joined the DC Air National Guard in 2018 with an interest in PA, wanting to apply his computer knowledge and programming skills to a new kind of technical equipment. Growing up, she took a summer photography course in a Magnetic Design and Architecture program where she learned how to develop film and create a pinhole camera.
“My favorite part of my job is helping others shine,” Jackson said. “I want to share what Airmen do and think about their careers, their accomplishments and what the different units on base are doing. [through] photography, video and articles. I vocalize their story to society.
As for the author of this story, Senior Airman Natalie Filzen joined the DC National Guard in 2019, with a federal government background and a passion for writing and creativity.
“We’re like the emcee of a story, weaving in the context as we let the narrative unfold, merging the soundbites or quotes together into a cohesive article or video, but ultimately we give voice to mission,” Filzen said. . “My favorite part of AP is that every day is different, every day we get to immerse ourselves in a new career field and then translate the intricacies of their work for the world to understand.”
PA specialists interview service members from an Airman fresh out of basic training to the top of the chain of command, including the President of the United States, ambassadors, governors and popular media personalities such as actors and actresses.
“But the most impactful thing is working with the individual Airmen who accomplish the mission day in and day out,” Heintz said. “It’s them with their boots on the pitch that deliver decisive combat power, so it’s an honor to meet them, hear what they have to say and tell their stories.”