Selfridge senior airman, Detroit native, helps deployed service members find their 'home away from home'

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
In every deployed location in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, service members need a place to call home - a place to rest when their work day is done. In the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at a non-disclosed base here, Senior Airman Robert Q. Jackson is one of the deployed Airmen who makes that happen.

Airman Jackson is a services journeyman deployed with the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron working as a front desk manager for the wing's lodging facility. He is deployed from the 127th Force Support Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.

"My job is vital to the well being of all deployed personnel," said Airman Jackson, whose hometown is Detroit, Mich. "I supply a way for people to rest and be at ease when the day ends. Everyone needs to sleep and with my job, I make sure they sleep well."

"In the lodging facility, I help coordinate and plan lodging for deployed personnel through our computer program," Airman Jackson said. "We also work with the wing's protocol office to help maintain and accommodate distinguished visitors who visit our base and I supervise and train two other Airmen on lodging procedures."

Airman Jackson's deployed duties also require the maintenance of a multi-million dollar warehouse of equipment and lodging stores. He orders and replaces broken items within dorm rooms, transient lodging and DV suites and helps with personnel accountability through in-processing and out-processing all deployed members through lodging. As a services journeyman though, Airman Jackson said he's called on to support more than his lodging management responsibilities require.

"The best thing about my job although it is that we support more than just lodging," Airman Jackson said. "I also help support the food aspect of services. People also need to eat and we ensure their meal is prepared and presented in a way they enjoy it.

"Another great part of my job would have to be the recreational and fitness part," he said. "People love to work out and relieve stress that comes with the task of being deployed. It allows them to release the pressures of the day and also obtain goals to be fit. In recreation, I love being able to provide games and events to lessen the stresses of being away from home. Knowing that I can supply a phone and a webcam for men and women to talk with loved ones at home makes me feel good. Whatever it may be, from video games to reading books, supplying people with many options to relax and be happy really is a great thing."

Airman Jackson is on his second deployment in support of the 380th AEW. The eight-and-a-half-year veteran of the Air Force said he's more than happy to deployment, but is more proud to be serving in the military.

"Serving in the Air Force is a great thing -- I wouldn't trade it for the world," Airman Jackson said. "The military has taught me so much. I have matured in ways I believe would have taken much longer if I had stayed at home. I have traveled the world four times over now. I've lived in four countries and visited more than 17. There is no better feeling of being well-traveled and experiencing the world."

The senior airman said he originally joined the military to better his life, pursue a career, have some money for college and see the world. "The job security and medical and retirement plans that I have now are priceless," Airman Jackson said.

On being deployed overseas, he said it is tough "no matter how someone tries to put it."

"But I also understand that I protect and defend our nation's rights and causes by being out here," Airman Jackson said. "Every day I wake up it is a struggle, but knowing that somewhere in the United States there is a person with the freedom of speech and the right to stand up for what they believe in makes it all worth it. Knowing that my family is safe and living in a country that will allow them to pursue whatever they believe in is a motivating factor to keep going."

Airman Jackson added that his decision to serve in the military can be attributed to support from a lot of people but the biggest influences he's had have been his parents.

"My father has molded me into a man through his guidance over the years and with his wisdom and knowledge," Airman Jackson said. "My mother, who I hold very dear to my heart, has given me my strength and courage to strive for the best. She always says, 'I'm your biggest fan and cheerleader.' That makes me smile and keep pushing toward greatness."

Airman Jackson also thanks his military mentors for his continued growth.

"I have had many mentors over the years," the Michigan native said. "While on active duty I always kept at least two or three. Since joining the Air National Guard in Michigan, there are several more who have been pushing me to be not only a better Airman and leader, but a better person. I would like to thank them for their support and leadership. These people are some of the reasons I excel at what I do in the United States Air Force. The military has been a great experience and I look forward to more journeys and stories to tell to my children. Joining in 2001 after high school was scary at first, but it was the best decision of my life."

The 380th EFSS is part of the 380th AEW. The wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, E-3 Sentry, U-2 Dragonlady and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The wing is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.