April Chief's Perspective
By Chief Master Sgt. Mark Drafts, 169th Maintenance Group
/ Published March 24, 2017
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
As I look back over the last 35 years of my career, all of it
spent right here at McEntire, it is hard to believe it is coming to an end. I
enlisted right out of high school. Because like many other guard babies, I was
recruited by my dad, who was also a guardsman and spent 35 years in the 169th
Resource Management Squadron. I was born while he was deployed to Spain. My mom
said I was the postman’s baby. Yes, his
full-time job was as a postman. I became a full-time technician a couple of
years after enlisting and it has been a great career. I have deployed all over
the world and have seen some amazing places. I look around at all the young
airmen and wonder where the time has gone.
I have had many friends and mentors throughout these years and
I hope that I in turn have inspired and mentored those around me. People say
“when he leaves that shop how is it going to be” but there is always someone
around to take up the slack and make it better. As my career winds down and I
look around, I see the future of McEntire in the hands of so many young capable
airmen. I am so proud of the airmen and NCO’s that work for and with me. I have
had the experience of a life time and enjoyed almost all of it. I could have
done without sharing tents with 40 other guys, the portable showers, toilets
and the feeling of never feeling clean while deployed to many desert locations.
But as they say you have to take the good with the bad and I personally know
that there have been more good than bad.
I encourage all of you to take advantage of the many
opportunities that the Air Force affords you. Education, travel, and
friendships that will last a lifetime. Also don’t forget about the annual
training days. Annual training is valuable because it gives everyone more time
to become experienced at your job, which in turn makes it easier when deployed.
Technicians as well as traditional guardsmen can appreciate the benefits of
this extra time. I hope everyone makes an effort to do as many days as
possible, they are free and there for the taking. If you do not use them
somebody else will. You will appreciate it when you start receiving your
retirement check. You will appreciate it more if you continue to deploy because
the days will add up in ninety-day increments, which will potentially qualify
you for a reduced retirement age before the age 60 depending on the orders you
are on. Go to the My PERS dashboard and apply under Reduced Retired Pay Age.
I would like everyone to remember just because we are serving
our country in these unpredictable and trying times, take it one day at a time.
Love what you do and remember your family during all this. Your family makes
sacrifices just as much as we do, so be sure to thank them for what they do. I
could not have done this all these years if not for the respect and dedication
of my family. Thank you everyone for all you do for your country and for