From the Frontlines: Staff Sgt. Adrian Paisley

Staff Sgt. Adrian Paisley, 509th Force Support Squadron fitness center specialist, was deployed to Southwest Asia, alongside a team of nine other Airmen from the 509th FSS, from July 2013 to January 2014. The team’s mission was to help organize and refurbish a nearly empty fitness center. They also assisted other units as they set up various facilities on base.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/Released)

Staff Sgt. Adrian Paisley, 509th Force Support Squadron fitness center specialist, was deployed to Southwest Asia, alongside a team of nine other Airmen from the 509th FSS, from July 2013 to January 2014. The team’s mission was to help organize and refurbish a nearly empty fitness center. They also assisted other units as they set up various facilities on base.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- From the lily pad prairies of Waypoint, Ga. to the sands of Southwest Asia, a 24-year-old Airman was called upon to deploy for a third time after serving five years and two deployments as a first-term Airman.

Staff Sgt. Adrian Paisley, 509th Force Support Squadron fitness center specialist, was deployed to Southwest Asia, alongside a team of nine other Airmen from the 509th FSS, from July 2013 to January 2014.

The team's mission was to help organize and refurbish a nearly empty fitness center. They also assisted other units as they set up various facilities on base.

"We pretty much built the fitness center and the base from the ground up," Paisley said. "When we arrived, there was almost nothing there. When we left to return home, the gym was fully operating, however, some areas are still on the merge of being built."

Paisley said the fitness center was essentially an empty hangar with a few stations of gym equipment available for Airmen to use.

"We originally had a tent right outside of the hangar, which consisted of two old and dusty treadmills," Paisley said. "Eventually we got to the point where our tent was filled with treadmills and ellipticals. It was really cool to see the entire facility change from the time we arrived until the time we left."

A typical day for Paisley involved waking up at 5 a.m., and preparing to work 12-hour shifts, six days a week.

In addition to renovating an empty hangar, Paisley and his teammates also renovated the recreation center, which originally consisted of a few fold-up tables with board games and video games.

"Services help build up morale," Paisley said. "Once we reorganized the recreation center, it basically became the hangout spot for everyone to go after work. We had computers Airmen could use so they could talk to their families."

Paisley and his teammates also planned and organized the base's first intramural sports program. Together they organized 45 volleyball games, which more than 100 Airmen participated in.

"It relieves them of a lot of stress and helps people keep their minds off of a lot of the duty day," Paisley said.

One part about this deployment that differed from previous deployments to Southwest Asia was other bases he had deployed to were already fully-functional, whereas this deployment gave him first-hand experience of what it feels like to help establish facilities at a base.

"During my first deployment, I was an escort for third-country nationals," Paisley said. "During my next deployment, my team and I we were assigned there to run a fitness center at a base which had already been established, so it was very similar to my job at the fitness center here at Whiteman. However this time, we had to build the fitness center and help organize other facilities on base while simultaneously running a fully functional fitness center."

Since the fitness center was brand new, Paisley and his teammates were also constantly adding new fitness equipment.

"We also helped out a lot of facilities that used tents for office space," Paisley said. "Over the course of my deployment, most units with facilities in crowded tents on base eventually shifted to their own private tents."

One aspect of working on a new base was the fact it created an environment in which everyone on base was very closely knit, Paisley said.

"There wasn't a stranger anywhere on base," he said. "We never had to wait for anything. The entire base felt like a family because if anyone needed anything everyone would pull together to make it happen."

Another aspect that made this deployment unique was his ability to improve his overall fitness level, and increasing his deadlift to 500 pounds, a personal best.

"I remember wanting to sit down after lifting that much weight because I thought I was going to pass out," he said. "I realized that if you work hard towards a goal then you can do anything you set your mind to."

Although Paisley is a fitness specialist while on-duty, fitness is always on his mind.

"I became a fitness enthusiast about two years ago," Paisley said. "I think it's important to maintain Air Force standards, especially when working in the gym. I try to look the part. I like being able to look like an expert who people would want to listen to if someone comes up to me looking for fitness advice."

Whether it was setting a personal deadlift best or helping members on his team with fitness center refurbishments, Paisley said his deployment experience was enjoyable and that he wouldn't mind going back on another tour to Southwest Asia if the opportunity presented itself.

"It amazes me how our Airmen overcome the unique personal and mission-related challenges of a deployment," said Master Sgt. Jeremy Marksmeier, 509th Force Support Squadron First Sergeant. "Paisley, and his entire team, truly exemplified the Air Force Core Values, while executing a unique mission. It was always a blessing to receive an email from their deployed leadership and hear how they were excelling in every facet of their lives, on- and off-duty. I am proud of Paisley and the Airmen he deployed with and it is good to have them home."