From the Frontlines: Senior Airman Dustin Chandler

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Born and raised in Murphysboro, Ill., and now stationed here, Senior Airman Dustin Chandler, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron, material management journeyman, has lived comfortably in the Midwest all his life.

Airman Chandler said he had an experience like no other when he left this Air Force Global Strike Command base for a recent deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Airman Chandler worked under the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan higher headquarters company when deployed. His company was a supply shop, which handled all office supplies for the entire base.

"When we arrived there wasn't a set supply system," he said. "We came up with an organized way to track and store our inventory.

"We assigned locations for designated supplies, created a tracking system and a shared database, and recorded our supply quantities into a consolidated inventory," he said.

When it came to work in Southwest Asia compared to Whiteman, Airman Chandler said there were a lot of differences.

"The job was different out there because we dealt with standard office supplies, where as my shop here focuses on aircraft and vehicle parts," Airman Chandler said. "We also had conexes, or steel trailers, to store our supplies compared to having a warehouse here.

"The tempo was definitely high [out there]," he said. "[But] overall it was the same concept; we inventoried and organized our assets."

Airman Chandler said once the supply shop was organized, they could focus on the camp's NATO mission.

"We were training the Afghans to replace NATO troops," Airman Chandler said. "Two Afghans worked in our supply shop. I trained them on the ins and outs of my supply job, so when we leave they can run a system without [our] assistance."

Airman Chandler said working with the Afghans was a unique experience.

"The Afghans who worked in our shop were well-educated, great workers and very willing to learn," he said. "They knew English, which helped, but there were still challenges. When it came to slang words, I really had to explain them in depth."

Airman Chandler said he worked with the Afghans day-in and day-out throughout his deployment.

"There was definitely a bond by the time I left," he said. "They were all very loyal soldiers. If anything was asked of them, they'd be willing."

The dedication and focus required to teach the Afghans was a rewarding challenge, according to Airman Chandler, but working at a joint NATO base was the best part of his deployment.

"It was a pretty neat experience to work alongside all the branches and see how they dealt with matters," he said. "I also worked with British, Australian and a variety of foreign soldiers.

"Sometimes it was a little stressful," Airman Chandler added. "For instance, most servicemembers outside the Air Force don't like being called 'sir.' Memorizing all the ranks and job titles was also a handful. Once I got used to the differences, the experience was great."

He said he made his work his life while deployed, which led to Airman Chandler being awarded the "Unsung Heroes Award" during his deployment. Each shop at his deployed location chose one hard- working individual to showcase their excellence. He was recognized for his excellence in training Afghans and his hard work organizing the supply shop, according to his nomination package.

Expanding from the comfort of the Midwest region, Airman Chandler said his deployment opened his eyes. He looks at the world differently now and is thankful for the experiences that came hand-in-hand with his deployment.