My First TDY: A work vacay

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Briana Beavers
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

“TDYs are supposed to be fun, it should be great, I may like it…,” sadly enough, thinking those words didn’t change the fact that I was not having fun -- yet.

This was my first temporary duty (TDY) and I was the only person from public affairs going to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, during a high-priority multi-wing exercise. So, my responsibilities and expectations were much higher, and I was determined to make the best of this opportunity.

Naturally, I like to succeed at whatever I do, and I personally want to do my best.

So, as I stepped off the ramp of an HC-130J Combat King II on the wrong side of the flightline, I hoped that it didn’t set the tone for the entire experience. I shrugged it off and walked with exercise observers from the aircraft to the nearest facility.

The walk wasn’t too long, but it gave me enough time to think about what I’d be doing here. With my job being PA, I was labeled as an observer because I was not an active player during the exercise.

As an observer I was supposed to capture visual imagery and create stories about what took place during the exercise.

After a few senior non-commissioned officers from MacDill AFB and Moody AFB negotiated among one another, they decided that we would remain at the alert facility for the remainder of the week-long exercise. 

An alert facility didn’t seem like the finest place to stay, but I was mistaken. It was a two-story facility with a large kitchen, dayroom, media room, conference room and more. The dorms were simple, and the restrooms were nice. I was surprised but also excited that I would have all needs met while I was there.

While I was getting settled, an Airman let me know there wasn’t anything work-related happening until the next day and that the team-lead had released us from duty.

It was around lunchtime and one person from the group, Tech. Sgt. Shannon Walsh, had previously been stationed at MacDill so she had insight on the best food in town. She wanted to eat at her favorite Brooklyn-style pizza place for lunch. I was glad to be invited and, even more than that, happy that I didn’t have to eat a meal ready to eat (MRE) for lunch.

During that time, I got to meet everyone I would be there with and got a better understanding of how the exercise would work.

The next day was the start of the exercise, which meant a lot of work for me. Even though the first day was hectic, for the first time in a while, I was excited to work. The change of scenery was nice, and I was meeting a lot of great people.

It felt almost like a work vacation, which I didn’t expect because it was such a serious exercise. Even though the exercise coverage demanded a lot, I was actually having fun. As time went on, the work became less hectic, and I was meeting the expectation set by my office leadership.

I wasn’t familiar with most of the Lead-Wing concepts like Agile Combat Employment and Command and Control, but I understood more with each day. 

The exercise was not perfect by any means. There was some miscommunication, and mistakes were made. But through it all, I tried to make the best of it, and each day I saw the resiliency of others to do the same.

One of the greatest traits the Air Force instills in its members is to be resilient. Problems will come, but with each one comes the possibility for a solution.

As the TDY came to an end, I was grateful for the experience. When the opportunity for another presents itself, I’ll be eager to volunteer, because I now have newer words to repeat in my head. “TDYs are fun, it will be great, and I am going to love it.”