Airmen in Focus - Senior Airman Tanya Kawolis

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Anthony M. Mutti
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
It takes a team to make a large scale deployment happen, just ask Senior Airman Tanya Kawolis, from Hyannis, MA, who is on her first operational deployment to Nellis Air Force Base Nevada with the 104th Fighter Wing.

Kawolis came to the 104th after spending the first year of her enlistment at the 102nd Fighter Wing in Otis, MA before it converted to an Intelligence Wing. She has been with the 104th for the past 3 years working in the Egress shop and is now supporting the five aircraft tasked to provided aggressor support for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.

As part of the egress shop, it is Kawolis' responsibility to inspect and maintain the ejection seat and the explosive elements of the ejection seat mechanism. It is also her responsibility to provide egress familiarization training to other shops to make sure they don't accidentally trigger the ejection mechanism while working on the aircraft.

"When everything is working, I don't have too much to do on a deployment like this, but that's a good thing!" said Senior Airman Kawolis . Instead, she spent a large amount of her time watching what other shops do, "We are away from everybody in the middle of nowhere [at Barnes]; so we don't see much of other people, much less see what they do to support the mission," said Kawolis. "I've had an opportunity to observe some non-destructive inspections, learn how to marshal-in aircraft, and see many of the other activities that go into launching and recovering the jets." The opportunities to learn from others, while not inspecting the ejections seat systems before and after flights, has allowed some time to better understand everyone's part of the mission, and learn how to help out in a pinch, Kawolis said.

For Kawolis, this deployment has been a fantastic experience, "It's been awesome! I've gotten to meet a lot of new people--other people outside my section I rarely get a chance to interact with. It's been great. It's been fun. I would definitely do it again."

This exercise provides a practical experience for Airmen to understand what it may be like if deployed overseas. The work hours and resources are scares, and working together as a team is the only way to be successful, Kawolis said.