19th Air Refueling Group gives Airmen say in new assignments

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
As the 19th Air Refueling Group readies to close in June 2008, the unit is helping its Airmen decide where they will go next.

On Nov. 15, Airmen, NCOs and Senior NCOs gathered in three sessions in the group's auditorium in Bldg. 2072 to make their choice of about 120 assignments put before them.

Col. Chris Bence, 19th ARG commander, said the distribution of assignments is usually filled by a team from the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, but funding limitations prevented the team from making a visit. So the unit decided to help.

"Today, we've tried to be as proactive as possible and we have preidentified about a third of the group's personnel for assignments by name to the AFPC at Randolph AFB for the first spring move which will happen January, February and March, with most of our folks in the February/March time period (making a permanent change of station)," he said.

Colonel Bence said the group has taken the same action with officers and enlisted Airmen. Officer assignments were handled directly through commanders, with a majority of the officer assignments already decided.

Assignments for the group's enlisted Airmen were based upon individual rank, skill level and pre-identified names. A list of job opportunities broken down by rank and skill level were made available for Airmen's individual choice, Colonel Bence said.

The 19th ARG commander said the group worked closely with AFPC in compiling the list of jobs and great care was taken to ensure information given to Airmen was accurate to prevent any further anxiety with future changes.

The leg work for deciding assignments and mapping out the road to the unit's June 23, 2008 closure began shortly after the commander came to Robins in July 2006.

Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Hamilton, 19th ARG superintendent, said the group could afford to let only 30 percent of its Airmen leave in February, with the other 70 percent moving in the June or July timeframe.

Colonel Bence said one-third of the officer and enlisted Airmen pre-identified and offered assignments had been on station for a long time and were not in single-deep critical billets.

Colonel Bence said the AFPC gave officers their first or second choice and matched enlisted Airmen with assignments based on the Air Force's needs.

In most cases, assignments were marked with Code 36 or Code 54, which would identify when people would move. In recent months, the codes have been lifted off of some Airmen to allow them to apply for special assignments Air Force-wide, Chief Hamilton said.

Colonel Bence said by de-coding the assignments, the unit has been able to protect most Airmen from getting no-notice assignments.

Senior Master Sgt. Kurt Senzig, NCOIC of the 19th ARG Base Relocation and Closure office, said his office worked with the Air Mobility Command and AFPC to determine people's next assignments.

Sergeant Senzig said enlisted fliers were given assignments through the group commander.

Airmen making assignment preferences on Nov. 15 were in the maintenance, supply, personnel and other specialty codes, Sergeant Senzig said.

Sergeant Senzig said the majority of Airmen at the Nov. 15 sessions will be going to Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Others are going to Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and Nellis AFB, Nev.

While the assignment process has been lengthy for some, many Black Knights are appreciative of what the unit has done to make it easier.

Airman 1st Class Alfonzo Pagan, an engine mechanic in the 19th Maintenance Squadron who plans to PCS to Shaw, said his new assignment will bring him closer to family.

Master Sgt. Marvin Simpkins, NCOIC of non-destructive inspections in the 19th MXS, said being able to choose his next assignment at Moody AFB, Ga. will mean a lot less stress on his family who is remaining in Warner Robins.

"Having a choice helped me stay near my family and reduced my stress level," he said.

Staff Sgt. Hiadia Ramsey, an aviation resource management craftsman in the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, said her assignment choice at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., will carry her about 30 hours from family, but it's a good assignment.

Airmen like Senior Airman Jason Byrd, a member of the 19th ARG's Global Reach Communications Element Team, won't go far for his next assignment with the 5th Combat Communications Group.

"It really eased a lot of tension just knowing what's happening," he said.

Airman 1st Class Phillip Capps, a member of the Global Reach Communications Element Team, who will also PCA to the 5th CCG, said he learned a lot about his assignment choices.

"They were actually very informative," he said. "They issued a spreadsheet for us to see our choices. So, it was very helpful."

While Airman Capps didn't get to PCS as he had hoped, he now has the information needed in case he gets the chance in the future.