Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rooms for 500 -- Hawgsmoke Airmen benefit from prior planning

by Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/14/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- In January Senior Master Sgt. Travis Stickels began planning to lodge approximately 500 Airmen and distinguished guests here for Hawgsmoke 2008, an A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted this year by the 442nd Fighter Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

Sergeant Stickels' list of considerations seemed endless when planning to house more than 500 participants who would partake in the biennial event. In the end, Airmen from across the Air Force would occupy six hotels and one building at a Kansas National Guard training facility at the Salina Airport.

"In January we met with the Salina Chamber of Commerce, four hotels and the National Training Center here," Sergeant Stickels said.

Sergeant Stickels made sure parking lots had proper lighting, that security was adequate and even checked the condition of rooms in order to ensure the safety, security and comfort of Airmen.

Even when Hawgsmoke 2008 was underway, Sergeant Stickel's job hasn't ceased.
" I'm the point of contact for any changes. If an Airman must be moved for any reason I need to know for accountability," he said.

Since three-fourths of the people participating in Hawgsmoke are maintenance specialists, Sergeant Stickels had to work closely with Chief Master Sgt. Greg Wetzel, chief of the 442nd Armament Flight's. Chief Wetzel contacted all maintenance personnel to begin plans to lodge them together and preserve "team integrity," a necessity for the smooth execution of Hawgsmoke according to Sergeant Stickels.

"I've known Sergeant Stickels a long time and have worked with him in the past. It's no surprise to me that he was able to manage all of this. He does everything within his capability to make everything quick and easy," Sergeant Wetzel said.

Even here at Hawgsmoke, a job that began in January continues as Sergeant Stickels' personal-digital-assistant rings.

"I told you there were 138 people staying in that hotel. It just went up. There are 141 in there now," Sergeant Stickels said.

Without Sergeant Stickels Airmen at Hawgsmoke 2008 would be homeless. Sergeant Stickels holds the keys to a warm bed, at the end of a damp and cold duty day in the heart of Kansas.


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