From the Frontlines: Senior Airman Cortez Howery

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
While some service members deploy and perform similar duties at their home station, others may do something entirely different. Senior Airman Cortez Howery, 509th Force Support Squadron Fitness Assessment Cell member, was one such Airman who gained a new perspective while helping accomplish the mission.

Instead of being a FAC member in Southwest Asia, he worked as a store room manager for Cold Grab and Go, a dining facility where service members could pick up snacks and cooked meals 24/7. Howery returned in October 2011 from a six-month deployment where a typical day for him consisted of waking up at 3 a.m. and working anywhere from 12-16 hours a day.

"I had to be ready to get up and go to the grab and go facility to start inventory because we had specific items to order every day," Howery said. "I controlled an inventory of approximately $2.4 million in Air Force assets."

Howery ensured his facility had the right food and essential items necessary to support the mission of his unit and installation.

"We also provided pilots with meals when they flew sorties," Howery said.

To support the base's mission, Howery was also in charge of managing the wing's ice program which provided ice for the entire base and the fallen warrior program which kept bodies of perished service members cool as they were flown home.

"Helping preserve the bodies of fallen warriors was a kind of humbling experience," Howery said. "They are our fallen comrades in arms and I helped get the bodies home to their families."

He said learning about different approaches to work in the services career field with Airmen stationed at bases all over the world was one of the best parts about his deployment.

Additionally, he said his living conditions were nice and made up for the tiring and sometimes stressful mission duties.

"We had wireless internet in the dorms and I was able to talk with my family via Skype every day," Howery said.

The most difficult part about his deployment was being away from his family. Howery's
youngest son was born during his absence.

"I got the chance to see the birth via Skype," Howery said. "It was tough to see my son for the first time and not be able to hold him. I still appreciate the time given to me by my leadership to leave work and enjoy that small bit of delight."

In addition to his duties, he volunteered in the base community by assisting in the management of a bicycle motocross demonstration and a Tops in Blue concert. He also participated in a poetry contest and won first place.

Overall, he enjoyed the experiences of his deployment both on and off duty and being entrusted with a position of leadership.

"Howery's superior work performance both stateside and during his deployment greatly attributes to the many goals he's accomplished while being in the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. Katrina Westendorf, 509th FSS fitness programs director and Howery's supervisor. "I believe that if he continues on this path, he will be an outstanding leader and mentor throughout his career."