HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
“Next man up.” A phrase often heard in sports refers to the mentality that every player must be ready to contribute to fit the team’s needs if adjustments must be made.
While the 54th Operations Support Squadron weather flight does not play a sport, they embody a team frame of mind. The culture of excellence has allowed them to overcome obstacle after obstacle. For this reason, they were awarded the Air Education and Training Command Weather Organization of the Year.
"Our team has been successful because just that, we are a team," said Senior Airman Jessica Martin, 54th OSS Weather Flight weather technician. "We're all really good friends, but when it's time to work, we can really focus and get it done. We just have each other’s backs at the end of the day.”
They are responsible for nine different flying squadrons and have a larger airspace than most AETC bases. Over the year, they gained more responsibility.
"This year, we took over issuing watches, warnings, and advisories for the test track, as well as the three bombing ranges around Holloman,” said Tech. Sgt. Cody Howk, 54th OSS Weather Flight NCO in charge. “In fact, we are the first AETC weather flight to take full control of those watches, warnings and advisories for locations that are owned by the installation but geographically separated. By taking that on, we freed up the team at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to focus more on their increased deployment mission.”
These were not the only major add-on for the team. Howk also mentioned the team developed a Micro Weather Sensor Network over Mobile Training Unit bombing ranges. This laid the groundwork for other AETC bases to do as well. The team is continuing to assist other bases in the major command in making this adjustment.
With many added tasks to an already diverse mission and a large number of new NCOs replacing the continuity of others this year, Howk praised the resiliency of the flight’s Airmen.
"Through all these changes, our Airmen have really taken to the fight," said Howk. “I think that’s the main reason we’ve been able to adjust. Every forecast, every brief they do, you kind of see a little bit of who that Airman is and they kind of put themselves into that briefing. So, there's a real good sense of ownership and we take pride in our work.”
Although the Airmen showed effort and dedication that was vital to the team's success, those in leadership positions also displayed a level of commitment that helped enable the Airmen’s proficiency.
"Our leadership does a great job of making sure everything goes smooth and keeping morale high," said Martin. "With all this added work and the COVID pandemic, they've gone out of their way to make sure no one's leave is denied and the mission still continues. I've been here almost two years and even though there's been a lot of turnover and people moving, each new team member comes in and provides new skills and the culture remains great.”
The 54th OSS weather flight has distinguished themselves as an innovative and resilient team. In the future, they look to build on that success.
“A great saying that I believe in is complacency kills,” said Howk. “While getting this award really gives us a sense of vindication, there's always little things we can improve on to be even better. It’s really great to be a part of a unit that con focus on the small things, because we get the major things right."