From the Frontlines: Master Sgt. Stephanie Nelsen

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
If a natural disaster strikes, a major accident occurs or an enemy attacks an Air Force base, it's essential to maintain full operational capability. Ensuring each base is prepared and has an emergency management plan developed is a major priority for not only Team Whiteman, but Air Force wide.

Master Sgt. Stephanie Nelsen, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management superintendent, understands this responsibility first hand since a major part of her job is ensuring that personnel within the wing are prepared for such threats.

She returned in December 2011 from her six-month deployment to the 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at Kandahar, Afghanistan, where her skills and knowledge were honed. There she trained the 451st AEW unit personnel on running unit control centers, developed a new Installation Emergency Management Plan and guided them into a new phase of enhanced force protection and emergency response recovery capability.

"My work days entailed reviewing the daily intel from multiple resources and briefing my commander and the force protection superintendent on any relevant information," Nelsen said.

She attended meetings from wing stand up, to force protection working groups to meetings with NATO counterparts.

Nelsen also assembled the wing's emergency management plan on how to prepare, respond, recover and mitigate from any threats and guided the units through checklists specific to their needs.

"We combined emergency management, Integrated Defense and anti-terrorism into the force protection working groups and council that met weekly with the wing commander," Nelsen said. "We conducted site visits to all 18 Air Force compounds, to validate their force protection status."

The site visits highlighted those who needed their fences and gates fixed. It also informed her team of who needed stronger security, deterrence into their compound and how they were going to defend themselves if a need ever arose.

Combined with her work ethic, Nelsen also volunteered with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron transporting wounded warriors from the NATO Role 3 Medical Treatment Facility to aircraft who then took the wounded either to Germany or back to the states for further treatment.

"As difficult as this was at times, I felt that this was the best way I could give back," Nelsen said.

Her supervisor, Maj. Sonja Tritsch, 451st ECES commander, said Nelsen was simply an amazing senior NCO and emergency manager.

"I relied on her to singlehandedly carry the emergency management load for the 451st AEW and she did that with incredible professionalism, perseverance and dedication as she vectored the force protection community into a new dimension," said Tritsch.

There are many parts of the deployment she enjoyed. Overall she said the high sense of accomplishment from helping to educate others on how to protect and recover from rocket attacks to her volunteer work transporting wounded made the deployment very rewarding.

"I wish I could have stayed another six months," Nelsen said.